Massive Forest Fire Near Yerushalayim


forest-fireA large forest fire is raging in the mountains near Yerushalayim, as 15 firefighting teams are battling to contain it with the assistance of planes.  No injuries were reported in the blaze, which the fire department suspects is a result of arson.

 “It’s a crazy sight,” Beit Shemesh Fire Department Spokesman Shmulik Amsalem told Ynet. “All the forests here are burning; the mountains are on fire. There are 15 firefighting teams here…we called in teams from Tel Aviv, Herzliyah, and Rechovot. We haven’t seen such fire in a while.”

 The probability that the blaze was caused by arson is high, National Firefighting Commission Spokesman Yoram Levy said, noting that the blaze was raging at three different sites. Police investigators will look into the possibility of arson once the fire is extinguished.

 Local resident Esther Cohen said the blaze has made the short trip to the community extra-long, because roads have been blocked.

 “We can’t see the fire from my home, but we can smell the smoke in the air,” she said.

 However, another resident who has been residing in the area for 50 years says he has seen such blazes before.

 “This doesn’t excite me too much,” Yitzchak Aharoni told Ynet. “There’s no danger to the homes, because the fire is quite far. But it’s true that we haven’t seen anything like it in recent years.”

 {Ynet/Yair Israel}