Rodeo grounds provides shelter from fire dangers for Alpine livestock

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Neighbors helping neighbors is the essence of community. 

The Lakeside Rodeo/El Capitan Stadium Association opened their facility to house horses, alpacas, goats and miniature horses from the heat, smoke and other dangers caused in Alpine by the West Fire, which began on Friday, July 6. 

Neighbors helping neighbors is the essence of community. 

The Lakeside Rodeo/El Capitan Stadium Association opened their facility to house horses, alpacas, goats and miniature horses from the heat, smoke and other dangers caused in Alpine by the West Fire, which began on Friday, July 6. 

“The images of the horses were breaking my heart,” said Lakeside resident Brandy Glensky, who, along with Emily Glensky, unloaded the cases of water at the rodeo grounds. “I can’t help because I don’t have a horse trailer, but I can bring water. We’re bringing four cases.”

Becky McBride, a board member, was on hand to receive the donation.

Images and news of the West Fire, which started mid-day at I-8 and Willows Road, spread quickly on social media, the news, and by word-of-mouth. Triple-digit temperatures and the wind factor carried the fire quickly into the southwestern parts of Alpine. Mandatory evacuations hit immediately.

The West Fire destroyed or damaged 72 structures and reached up to 505 acres over the weekend according to Cal Fire.

The Lakeside Rodeo’s grounds and arena were opened to receive Alpine resident’s animals for safekeeping. 

“I didn’t hear about it, I saw it,” said Alpine resident Ron Robillard. “I heard the planes go over and saw the flames.”

Robillard and his wife, Erin, took advantage of the rodeo grounds’ offer of safe keeping for their animals, including their three alpacas. The Robillard’s loaded up their horse trailer and headed to safety.

Sheltering the scared animals has been a community project from the beginning.

“Vets, a retired zookeeper and a mailman showed up to volunteer,” said McBride.

Board members like Blake Buska, board president Dick Ponce, and more mobilized quickly to organize the rodeo grounds as a shelter for the animals at risk from fire and smoke.

“We have a rodeo next week, the Optimist Bulls Only Rodeo on the 13th and 14th, we were going to start prepping for it,” said Ponce. 

Ponce said he and the rest of the associations’ members thought prioritizing the needs of their neighboring city, Alpine, in an emergency was an obvious decision.

The El Capitan Stadium Association (Lakeside Rodeo) is a non-profit 501(c)(3). The Lakeside Arena and grounds are located at 12584 Mapleview Street in Lakeside.

The County of San Diego Animal Services was on hand as well to assist.