Police have arrested two male residents of Daliat al-Carmel on the suspicion that they had attempted to ignite fires in the Muhraka area of the Carmel hills. An Israeli Air Force drone filmed the two men, in their 30s, as they tried to ignite flammable material. The information was passed to police and the two were arrested and brought in for questioning.Arson is also suspected in a fire that broke out near a gas station in Kiryat Bialik on Friday afternoon. Police found evidence at a nearby factory that aroused their suspicions.
Evidence of arson was also found in Kiryat Tavon.
“We are treating these incidents severely, these were serious crimes,” said Coastal District police chief Roni Atiya.
17,000 Northern residents have thus far been evacuated from their homes as the largest wildfire in Israeli history has raged out of control in the Carmel hills south of Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, since Thursday morning. The blaze spread as far the moshav of Nir Etzion by Friday afternoon.
Authorities are closely monitoring wind directions and are preparing for the possibility that fires will spread to additional locations. Buses have been moved into to positions that will allow for additional evacuations if necessary.
“The fire has spread to other areas throughout the day despite the efforts of dozens of foreign aircraft and the situation is getting worse,” said Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav.
A Home Front Command officer also said that at this point the fire is only growing stronger.
Fire-fighting aircraft from throughout the world landed in Israel on Friday to aid in battling the flames.
The death toll from the blaze reached 41 on Friday, most from an incident on Thursday involving a bus carrying members of a Prison Service guards’ course who were heading to the Damon jail to help evacuate inmates there.