A 50-year-old resident of Beit Zeit was detained today by Yerushalayim police on suspicion of causing the fire that ravaged the Yerushalayim Forest area on Sunday.
The suspect allegedly incinerated trash in the back yard of his home, causing a blaze which later spread to the surrounding area. Intense winds caused the flames to spread toward the city, and to different places, giving the impression that the fire had broken out in a number of sites simultaneously.
Firefighters managed to gain control of the fire Sunday evening, after it had raged for four hours in the Mount Herzl area of Jerusalem. Five people sustained light injuries from smoke inhalation and workers and visitors at Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial were evacuated.
The fire broke out at about 3:30 in the afternoon on Sunday. A force of 200 firefighters in 37 teams, equipped with large water tanks belonging to the Home Front Command, was sent to battle the blaze, which broke out near an oil refinery, and is one of a series of forest fires that has caused serious damage in Israel this year.
“The working method is to protect the Har Nof neighborhood, Yafe Nof, Yad Vashem and Pi Glilot,” said Fire Service commissioner Shahar Ayalon. “The idea is to make tracks to slow down the fire in front of the neighborhoods.”
The fire in the Har Nof area was brought under control before it reached the Pi Glilot petroleum terminal and before damage was caused to Yad Vashem, which is next to the Jersualem Forest.
Hundreds of children who were visting the Tzipori Center at the heart of the Jerusalem Forest were evacuated when the fire broke out.
A farm at Beit Hayaar completely burnt down, however. Farm workers managed to evacuate all the farm animals, mainly horses and goats, before any were harmed.