He fires that have burned across Israel since Tuesday raged on Thursday with new areas threatened by flames as other blazes have come under control. Fifty percent of these fires were caused by repeated arson, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio Thursday morning.
Also on Army Radio, Shimon Ben-Ner, a senior Haifa firefighter, said: “I know for a fact that they tried to set fire to the department’s station in Haifa deliberately to cause the Haifa fire department to be paralyzed.”
The University of Haifa was evacuated on Thursday as a precautionary move as fires raged in the northern city.
Earlier Thursday morning, authorities evacuated residents from several streets in the city’s northern Mount Carmel neighborhood of Romema. Additional fires broke out in the Ramot Sappir neighborhood of Haifa, prompting a nearby kindergarten to evacuate.
Fires also broke out in an open field bordering Haifa’s main fire station. Flames from burning brush spread to parked cars and nearby warehouses and have crossed the road. Highway 22 and the Paz Bridge have both been closed to traffic, and the police reported two injuries in the area. All forces were working to control the flames.
Additionally, the Israel Electric Company declared a state of alert. Several power-lines and company substations were damaged due to the fires, resulting in temporary power cuts and safety issues. Another fire has erupted nearby the Orot Rabin power station in Hadera.
The police spokesman also reported a renewal of a fire in Talmon, a settlement in the West Bank east of Modi’in. Several structures, porches, and gas cylinders were ablaze, spreading to nearby yards and houses. The town’s residents were evacuated.
Another fire broke out in Modi’in, the Israeli Police Foreign Press Office reported Thursday morning. Four police cars, eight fire trucks, and two planes were dispatched to handle the fire and prevent injury to residents. Several Modi’in schools were closed, and the Klil Hahoresh, Dotan Valley, and Yair Peleg roads were closed to traffic.
Sections of road 443 near Shilat junction were closed to traffic Thursday morning due to the fire raging near Neve Ilan. The road was reopened shortly thereafter.
40 firefighting teams are working this morning to extinguish a fire that is advancing, aided by strong winds, on the community of Neve Ilan near Jerusalem.
In addition, six firefighting teams and two helicopters have rushed to the scene of a brush fire near the checkpoint on Route 443. Police said that the fire is spreading towards the Modiin commercial center, and that residents of adjacent areas such as Migdal David and Mishmar Ayalon have been instructed to stay in their homes.
Parents are instructed not to bring their children at this time to the “Ofek” and “Yovel” schools in the area due to the danger of smoke inhalation.
Similarly, another fire started to develop this morning near Kibbutz Harel in the area near Beit Shemesh. Firefighting teams worked at the scene and have subdued the fire.
Firefighters allowed 60 families, evacuated from their homes last night from the community of Talmon in the Binyamin region, to return. Firefighters subdued the fire in that area, though they are still working to put out flames at various locations where fire is still present. There were no injuries
Firefighting planes (POLICE SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)
(Planes arrive in Israel to fight the fires. (Courtesy Israeli Police)
Rosenfeld said 30 fire crews, aided by at least six planes and a police helicopter, battled that blaze for nearly six hours, finally containing it on Wednesday evening.
Asked if there appeared to be a connection between the blazes, Rosenfeld said multiple investigations have been opened to determine if they were triggered by weather conditions or foul play.
Herb Keinon, Sharon Udasin, and Daniel K. Eisenbud contributed to this report.
Sources: www.jpost.com : www.ynetnews.com