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Saved from the Fire 'By a Miracle at the Last Moment'

Jerusalem resident recalls harrowing experience with the massive forest fire this week that nearly burned down his home.
By Benny Toker, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/27/2014, 1:29 PM

Jerusalem forest fire in Ein Kerem
Jerusalem forest fire in Ein Kerem
Flash 90

The Hovev family of Jerusalem's Kiryat Yovel neighborhood was evacuated and saved at the "last moment" from the massive forest fire that bore down on the capital on Wednesday.

Adi Hovev, who lives in the neighborhood's Shimriyahu Levin Street, located just south of  the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum and Mount Herzl national cemetery, spoke to Arutz Sheva about his harrowing experiences.

"Heavy black smoke filled the house, and we were breathing with great difficulty; I went down to the garden and took the garden hose to try and protect the home. The fire was really approaching," recalled Hovev.

"At a certain point, and possibly in the last moments before the flames seized the home, firefighters arrived and evacuated me and my wife to the street outside," said Hovev.

For several hours residents of the street stood, hoping that their homes would not be engulfed by the flames.

"We were outside until 9 p.m., we sat and looked at the planes and the black smoke. By a miracle our home was saved," remarked Hovev.

The Jerusalem resident added "it's a feeling you can't describe, you're standing and seeing how the smoke comes out of your house; to our luck the planes that came to put out the fire saved our home. It reminded us of snowy weather, we got white snow that the planes scattered and that's what saved the home."

However, the landscape was not saved. "All the surrounding trees - everything is burnt, it's not pleasant to look at the view towards Yad Vashem and Mount Herzl, everything's black and burnt," concluded Hovev.

Ultimately, residents of three streets, as well as Yad Vashem and Hadassah Hospital were evacuated due to the fire, and all vehicle traffic near the blaze was closed. A total of twelve homes were damaged, several people suffered light injuries from smoke inhalation, and the light rail between Denia and Ein Kerem stations was shut down.

The fire came a day before two more blazes burst out on Thursday in Jerusalem and Carmiel in the north, in a series of flames suspected to be arson "terror" attacks

Also on Thursday, the Jerusalem Magistrates Court extended by four days the arrest of a 20-year-old Arab resident of Abu Ghosh to the east of Jerusalem, suspected of setting a forest in the area on fire Sunday. Police say he confessed to the crime.

Former MK Michael Ben-Ari on Wednesday asked "who is burning our country every year? Why isn't it spoken about? Who's hiding the nationalistic crime?"

"Graffiti has been declared as terrorism, what about burning forests next to residential buildings? Is the Shabak (Israel Security Agency) investigating who is behind the fire terrorism, or are they busy with a girl who had chalk in her schoolbag?" asked Ben-Ari rhetorically, referencing the high profile responses to "price tag" vandalism.