Hundreds of thousands of Southern Californians have been evacuated since the start of the California wildfires, scrambling to leave quickly while collecting their loved ones and pets. With so many homes destroyed, many of them have nowhere to go.
San Diego now has 13 shelters open, and five are already filled to capacity. Qualcomm Stadium, home of the NFL's San Diego Chargers, is the largest facility housing stranded residents. It's the middle of the NFL season, and the stadium is beginning to get crowded, but officials say no one will be turned away.
Evacuees seeking shelter from the inferno are sleeping in hallways and eating off of cardboard tables. Ester Francis fled to her son's home when her own home was evacuated, but came to Qualcomm after his home was in danger. Francis now lives in the corner of the end zone, but is happy to be safe.
"It is a wonderful feeling to see all these people from different lifestyles all living together," Francis said.
And the 90-year-old said she can take living in an end zone as long as needed.
"It is a matter of being flexible," she said.
Overnight, the National Guard delivered thousands of cots, and today, thousands of volunteers began pitching tents and handing out food.
The biggest concern right now is proper sanitation, with more than 10,000 people in this one shelter alone.
"All trash is going to go outside of Qualcomm. If you see a can that is overflowing, take stuff out and seal the bag yourself," one volunteer was heard telling evacuees at the stadium.
Qualcomm Stadium is not the only sports facility serving as a shelter. Elderly evacuees from nursing homes were brought to the nearby Del Mar race track to spend the night.
San Diego's Mayor Jerry Sanders is pleading with nurses and doctors to help the evacuees at these shelters as San Diego is trying to take care of its own.
"The city doesn't usually do evacuations — that is done by the American Red Cross and Salvation Army, and they have done incredible jobs, but they were stretched so tight, we threw this together yesterday," Sanders said.
And officials are protectively preparing for the worst.
More cots are coming to Qualcomm Stadium tonight, and there are 18,000 parking spaces for people to sleep in their cars. The National Guard is keeping watch on the facilities, but so far, conditions at the shelters have remained safe and calm.