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Raging Sand Fire displaces dozens of exotic animals from Southern California wildlife sanctuary

Firefighters have been working tirelessly since Friday, July 22, to contain the Sand Fire raging near Santa Clarita, California.

The fire has burned more than 30,000 acres and is at 10 percent containment. At least 18 homes have been destroyed, officials said, and evacuations are still in place.

Thousands of other structures were in jeopardy, including Wildlife Waystation, an animal refuge in Angeles National Forest.

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The shelter cares for more than 400 permanent animal residents, including exotic wildlife like tigers, alligators and a grizzly bear. The Sand Fire encroached towards the shelter on Saturday, prompting workers and community volunteers to transport the animals to a safe place quickly.

Starting with small creatures and birds most susceptible to respiratory problems, workers managed to evacuate 70 percent of the animals by Saturday night. Larger animals like bears and bison were transported later with help from community volunteers.

By Saturday night, Wildlife Waystation said on their Facebook page that firefighters had prevented flames from reaching the shelter.

"The firefighters worked their butts off to contain the fires burning around the facility! That with the change in the wind direction, gave them a leg up on containment," they said in a Facebook post.

Some animals are still at the shelter, including a zebra, a camel, chimps and coyotes. If the fire poses a threat to them or the structure, they will be evacuated.

Dozens of concerned supporters posted on the Wildlife Waystation Facebook page offering to provide food and crates as well help with the transportation of the animals.

Nearby the Deaf Dog Rescue of America shelter also evacuated over the weekend with help from generous locals. Though no mandatory evacuation was ordered for that area, the shelter owners did not want to take a chance, they said on their Facebook page.

They boarded up 45 dogs and transported them to the state prison in Lancaster, California, where inmates will help care for them.

"And to our dogs....we are so proud of them. Even though we have a few freakers here, they remained pretty calm for loading and unloading even though they were scared to death," the shelter owners wrote on Facebook.

High winds, triple-digit heat and dry land have created arduous conditions for firefighters. Over the weekend, evacuations were lifted only to be put back in place when winds shifted the flames.