'City of Gold' Covered with Soot

Jerusalem, usually graced by sunshine, snow or welcome winter rains, is covered with smelly soot from a huge forest fire set by an arsonist.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 09:59

Plane fights fire near HarNof
Plane fights fire near HarNof
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Jerusalem, the "City of Gold" and usually graced by sunshine, snow or welcome winter rains, is covered with smelly and ugly soot from a huge fire in the Jerusalem forest, apparently set by an arsonist.

Thick smoke wandered from the adjacent forest throughout the residential areas of Kiryat Mosheh, Beit HaKerem and Har Nof Monday morning, all a short walk to the dense foliage and picnic area, forcing people to leave their windows closed to prevent the soot from blackening everything in their homes.

Police have not revealed the motive of the suspected arsonist or arsonists, who lit the inferno in five different spots in the forest near the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial and the Har Herzl Military Cemetery Monday. Anti-nationalist motives are suspected.

Hundreds of acres were scorched by Sunday evening, ruining beautiful scenery in the Jerusalem Hills. Magen David officials said four of the five people suffering from smoke inhalation were hospitalized. Several parked cars were destroyed.

Police and firefighters are standing guard to make sure the blaze does not come to life again. The fire forced the evacuation of workers and visitors at Yad VaShem, where the flames were within less than 150 feet of scorching the facility.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted that the new aerial firefighting planes aided in bringing the fire under control.

Last year’s disastrous and fatal fire that claimed 44 lives exposed Israel’s lack of aerial firefighters. The government since has purchased planes that operate in coordination with the Air Force.