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Just a stadium again

The Del Mar Fairgrounds this afternoon will become the American Red Cross' main evacuation center for San Diegans displaced by the wildfires. Today at noon, Qualcomm Stadium's center will close and evacuees will be directed to the fairgrounds, said Kina Paegert, a fairgrounds spokeswoman.

"The buildings at the Del Mar Fairgrounds offer better protection against smoky air and damp evenings and people know how to get here compared to some of the other smaller sites," Paegert said. "We'll house evacuees here as long as there's a need."

Police reported that 400 evacuees were left at Qualcomm by Thursday evening, but Paegert said the fairgrounds was prepared to host at least 1,000 evacuees, some of which may come from smaller Red Cross shelters in northern San Diego County. The fairgrounds, which at one point sheltered 2,200 people Monday evening, had 88 evacuees as of Thursday night.

The shelter also housed as many as 2,200 evacuated horses; that's now down to about 1,700. Most events scheduled at the site this weekend will go on. Information about events is available at www.sdfair.com, Paegert said.

--Francisco Vara-Orta

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