Jerusalem Fires 'Under Control'

A major blaze in Jerusalem's Motza area has been brought under control by some 28 firefighting teams from across the country

Gabe Kahn,

Fire at Motza
Fire at Motza
News 24 / Shmuel Ben Yishai

Firefighters on Tuesday succeeded in bringing several fires in Motza area of Jerusalem under control.

Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Shahar Ayalon postulated that the massive blaze could have broken out due to arson.

"A fire doesn't start itself," he said. "This was either caused by negligence or was lit intentionally."

Police closed the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv Highway (Highway 1) in both directions and reopened it two hours later. Some residents in the Motza area were evacuated. Four people suffered mild smoke inhalation injuries.

According the Fire Department, 35 firefighting teams were trying to contain the flames. Six IAF planes assisted in their efforts.

Ayalon said, despite the blaze being under control, it would nevertheless noted that it would take a while to extinguish the smaller fires.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch arrived at a command center set up at the Givat Shaul cemetery. He told reporters there was no indication for arson, but added the fire will be investigated by the police and Fire Services.

On Sunday Jerusalem firefighters extinguished no fewer than 15 fires that broke out in the city.

Jerusalem fire chief Capt. Shmulik Friedman told reporters on Sunday that investigators believes most of those fires were the result of arson.

Jerusalem District fire chief Eli Peretz told Israel Radio that it was too soon to tell if arson was the cause of the fires.

Seven people have been arrested in the past month for allegedly lighting fires in open areas.

Officials say firefighters have dealt with more than 200 cases of suspected arson in open areas and forests around Jerusalem in the past two weeks.