Big West Media Day Update

By Jason Owens - October 24, 2007


LA JOLLA, Calif. -- Instead of attending Big West Media Day in Irvine, I find myself back home on my couch in San Diego watching the fire updates on TV along with everyone else. I started to make the 75-mile trek north to Irvine this morning only to get cut off by an interstate closure along I-5, the primary corridor between San Diego and Los Angeles. The fires had come too close and made the northbound lanes impassable. I've never seen it closed in my five years of living here.

Since I won't have Big West news for you today, I can give you a bit of one resident's perspective of what's happening in San Diego and at Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego State Aztecs.

I'm fortunate enough to live in an area of town that's largely unaffected by the fires. La Jolla is on the coast and most of Western San Diego has been spared. It's a bit smoky around my house, but other than people staying home from work, it's pretty much business as usual on my side of town.

On Tuesday, I made my way to Qualcomm Stadium, where an estimated 12,000 evacuees were staying. It was a surprisingly positive environment, nothing like the horror stories told from the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a giant movie screen set up showing one of the Shrek movies as a few dozen people watched. There were musicians set up throughout the concourse and free food, massages, counseling and even acupuncture provided for all the evacuees.

The most surprising sight I saw was a man walking his dog and two llamas around the football stadium. The animals have to find a safe haven as well.

While a lot of the evacuees have been staying with friends and family around the region, the people forced to stay at Qualcomm don't have anywhere else to go. Either the homes of their friends and family have been evacuated as well, or they don't have anybody close by to stay with.

They're living in all parts of the stadium. The parking lot is lined with RVs and tents while cots have been set up all along the inner corridors looking down on the football field.

The military presence is high as I saw several Humvees and a truck full of soldiers on the highways outside the stadium. A Homeland Security helicopter landed in the parking lot shortly before I arrived. There are several volunteers helping to keep order and food distributed as people continue to flow into the the stadium. Most of the major national news outlets have set up camp somewhere around the stadium. It really is an impressive scene.

As the fires rage and evacuees continue to pour in, there's no time frame on how long Qualcomm will remain a shelter. As a result, San Diego State, which shares Qualcomm Stadium with the San Diego Chargers, has postponed its Saturday matchup with BYU until Dec. 1.

Posted by Jason Owens at 02:21 PM on October 24, 2007
Comments (4)

Comments

How can I find out if the areas of San Carlos and La Mesa are safe from the fires?

The San Diego Union-Tribune is probably the best source for local coverage. You can find it at www.signonsandiego.com. Good luck.

La Mesa isn't affected by the fires. I live about 2 miles away, and we're safe.

What about Encinitas?

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