Volunteers help evacuate animals to Del Mar Fairgrounds

DEL MAR, Calif. – Hundreds of animal owners fled the flames of the Lilac fire Thursday and brought their livestock and pets to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

By 10 p.m., more than 600 horses were sheltering at the fairgrounds, and officials said there were stalls available for 1,000 more.  A constant stream of trailers and trucks brought horses, goats, other livestock and all manner of pets to the designated animal shelter.

"It's been utter chaos, really," one horse owner said. "We had 15 horses we had to evacuate, find trailers for."

"I had to leave work and go home and just start grabbing animals," another woman said. She had two horses, a dogs, two cats, a cockatiel and a rabbit.

The fairgrounds were staffed by dozens of volunteers who helped worried owners find space for their animals. Other brought food, water, coffee and hot chocolate for the animals and their owners.

A number of people, like Cassndra Garcia, saw pleas for help on Facebook and volunteered to transport animals to the fairgrounds for complete strangers.

"We don't know the name of these goats," Garcia said. "We responded to a post on Facebook. People in need in the Fallbrook and Bonsall communities were in desperate need to get their animals out immediately and they needed trucks and trailers so we just responded to the first address and phone numbers that we saw."

Volunteers say they still need more donations including animal food, water and hot drinks and donuts for the animal workers.