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Thousands Evacuated As Australia Tackles Summer Wildfires

03/01/2015 19:46 GMT | Updated 03/01/2015 19:59 GMT

Thousands of Australians fled their homes as wildfires raged across the nation's south on Saturday, with firefighters struggling to contain the blazes fanned by strong winds.

Dozens of pets have been burned to death after the fires tore through a kennel and cattery, with its owners forced to flee. More than 40 dogs and cats are believed to have died at the Tea Tree Gully Boarding Kennel and Cattery on Saturday morning.

Six homes were destroyed by the fires in South Australia and Victoria states, officials said, though no serious injuries have been reported. Dry conditions and temperatures in the high 30s were causing headaches for firefighters battling the blazes. Officials said it would likely take days to get the fires under control.

Up to 2,000 firefighters were battling the blazes across the state from the ground and the air, with more than a dozen aircraft dumping water onto the flames. A shift in the weather Saturday afternoon was expected to bring light rain, wind and lightning to the area, which could exacerbate the blaze, but not enough rain to quell the flames.

Australia Fire