Last Friday, the city of Adelaide Hills in South Australia was struck by out-of-control bushfires that they haven’t seen since 1983. The fires raged across 30,888 acres (12,500 hectares) of land about 30 minutes drive south east of Adelaide.
32 houses were destroyed in the fires and more than 100 people needed hospital treatment, but there were no human deaths. The most tragic part of the story though is that hundreds of animals died. The Tea Tree Gully boarding kennel and cattery and Humbug Scrub animal rescue shelter both burned.
The fire ripped through the Tea Tree Gully Boarding Kennels and Cattery and burned down the entire cattery with every cat in it and a large section of the kennels. All of the cats and about one third of the dogs at the kennel perished in the fires. The owners, Paul and Elizabeth Hicks, could not take any animals with them when forced to evacuate, but they managed to save about 40 dogs and kept in touch with worried owners through Facebook until they received so much hate mail that they decided to shut it down. They originally posted on Facebook, “We have lost a home, business and pets we love and feel so awful about the loss of people’s beloved pets.” The family even lost their own pets when they were forced to flee the building with their two young daughters. ABC shares that Facebook pages, including “Lets support Tea Tree Gully Boarding and Cattery” and “We support the tea tree gully boarding & cattery, it was not your fault,” were set up to support the family and have gathered thousands of likes, even from some owners who lost their pets in the fire.
Vets and animal rescue teams have gained access to parts of the devastated areas where they traveled from property to property feeding and watering and treating pets, livestock and native animals, but many animals have not survived or have been put down. Many animals not killed or burnt by the fires have been left without food, water or access to shelter, but the area is still being checked for more animals to rescue and send off to be treated or euthanized if they were too badly hurt to survive.
Koalas were among the animals that were greatly harmed. Koalas have weak immune systems, so the risk of dying from infection is very high. If they get to be in too much pain, they just sit at the bottom of a tree and scream. They have been helped as much as possible, though. Jeremy the Koala, who got his paws badly burned, has become the face of injured koalas in the Adelaide fires.
He’s recovering well however, and his caretakers say that he should be able to be returned back into the wild within a few months.
Humans have been giving water to koalas that are heat-stricken in the 100 degree (Farenheit) Adelaide weather.
It is still not certain on how many livestock had died.