Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Public Safety

How To Help In The Aftermath Of Lilac Wildfire

A horse is loaded into a trailer at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Dec. 7, 2017.
Steve Walsh
A horse is loaded into a trailer at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Dec. 7, 2017.

Volunteers are pouring in to help after the Lilac Fire tore through thousands of acres in San Diego County. While several local organizations say they are at capacity for volunteers, there are still ways to help.

RELATED: Parts Of Fallbrook In Ashes After Lilac Fire

211 San Diego

San Diego County's emergency hotline, 211 San Diego, is looking for volunteers to staff its call center, said spokeswoman Meg Storer.


She said they currently have about 150 volunteers and that those wishing to help can sign up at Shifts that need volunteers are posted there, and as people sign up and fill shifts, new shifts become available, she said.

Volunteers give callers information about shelters, evacuation routes, road closures and utilities, and may be asked to perform other administrative tasks.

The call center was flooded with calls on Thursday, leaving many who needed information unable to connect. By Friday morning, the center had taken 8,500 calls and the average wait time on Friday was less than a minute, according to San Diego County's Twitter account.

Red Cross

The American Red Cross of San Diego and Imperial Counties right now has enough volunteers, said spokeswoman Emily Cox.

"We've filled our needs with our existing volunteer pool, but we still ask people to sign up so we can get them through the background check, get them registered," she said.


The Red Cross could need more volunteers if they have to suddenly open more shelters, so she asked people to register so they are available. She said the Red Cross contacts people who have registered on the same day or the next day.

There was a large influx of volunteers locally after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma hit the United States this fall, surging the force from about 2,000 to 2,800, Cox said.

Financial donations are still needed and welcome, she said. People can donate at or by texting the words "Red Cross" to 90999 for an automatic $10 donation.

"We run off volunteer power and are very appreciative of volunteers who are on call all throughout the year so we can set up and open shelters as quickly as we can," Cox said. She said Palomar College requested a shelter at around midnight Thursday, and one was open two hours later and that's "because of volunteers."

A horse at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Dec. 7, 2017.
Steve Walsh
A horse at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, Dec. 7, 2017.

Del Mar Fairgrounds

The Del Mar Fairgrounds also currently has enough volunteers to help care for horses and other large livestock, but that could change during the day, said spokeswoman Annie Pierce.

She asked those interested in helping to call 858-755-1161 Friday afternoon to see if they are needed or to check the Del Mar Fairgrounds Facebook page.

The fairgrounds has the capacity for 1,600 animals and Friday morning was sheltering about 850 horses and large livestock, Pierce said.

The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club set up a page to collect donations, so Pierce said anyone wishing to help can donate there.

RELATED: Fund Set Up For Horses After Lilac Wildfire

"Our staff and volunteers are working around the clock to keep animals safe, and it's been unbelievable to see the community come together," she said.

The group Southern California Equine Emergency Evacuation was also using its Facebook page to coordinate help for evacuating animals during the fire.

KPBS has created a public safety coverage policy to guide decisions on what stories we prioritize, as well as whose narratives we need to include to tell complete stories that best serve our audiences. This policy was shaped through months of training with the Poynter Institute and feedback from the community. You can read the full policy here.