Big Cats and communities on edge as the Rough Fire closes in

Watch the video for extended coverage from Action News reporter Veronica Miracle
FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Evacuation warnings are now in place for Dunlap, Miramonte, and Pinehurst.

Moving 34 exotic cats isn't easy. It takes preparation, time, and a lot of help. Cat Haven volunteer Justin Lindholm is one of dozens moving these rescued animals to safety. It's not his day job though. He's coming from the fire that's moving closer to this sanctuary.

Lindholm said, "I was up there for two weeks. "It's hard to get into places it's burning which is why it's causing us so much problems."

The cats are moving to zoos and homes across the state until the threat of the Rough Fire goes away. They're not the only ones who are getting ready to leave.

"We're very scared actually," said Tawnee Smith. "We've already made sure we've got a plan to evacuate our animals, and what's important to us out of the house so we can leave."

Smith and her daughter live in Dunlap. They're under an evacuation warning for the Rough Fire, so they have to prepare to leave. It was fairly calm here until another fire broke out near Squaw Valley Road causing families to panic.

Smith added, "Everybody wanting to know how everybody is doing and what to do and where to go and the families to help."

Luckily nearby airtankers from the rough fire were able to help suppress this 400 acre fire. But it hasn't been contained at this hour. Smith was among hundreds of people at a community meeting later that night asking questions about both nearby fires.

Operation Section Chief Jon Teutrine said, "We hope to be successful. But the reality is there have been several lines in the sand that have been unsuccessful."

Firefighters say if the fire moves past a contingency line near Hume Lake, mandatory evacuations are likely.

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