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Suspect Arrested in Connection with Jerusalem Forest Fire

A suspect has been arrested in connection with a forest fire that lit up the skies above Jerusalem on Sunday.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 7/18/2011, 7:39 PM / Last Update: 7/18/2011, 7:44 PM

A suspect has been arrested in connection with a forest fire that lit up the skies above Jerusalem, the City of Gold, on Sunday.

The suspect, a 50-year-old Jewish man from the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Zayit, was arrested for burning his trash at home irresponsibly.

It was initially believed an arsonist had ignited the fire, which raced through the forest that stands near the residential neighborhoods of Kiryat Moshe, Beit HaKerem and Har Nof.

The blaze had started in four different areas of the forest, lending additional credence to the theory.

However, it is now believed that the man, who set the fire to the trash in his courtyard, lost control of the flames, which were carried away by the wind and ignited the nearby forest – which was dry from the summer heat.

“It seems that the fire jumped from place to place, which is why they thought it was arson,” explained Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby.

The fire, which burned more than 150 dunam, was out by midnight Sunday night.

Five firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, and three workers from the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum suffered mild smoke inhalation as well. The campus, which was threatened by flames on its western perimeter, has its own professionally trained firefighting staff.

Meanwhile, the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev was also struck by fire on Monday afternoon.

Six firefighting crews worked to put out the blaze, which by Monday evening had been contained, although not yet extinguished.

None of the houses in the neighborhood were threatened, officials said. An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway.