Daily Israel Report

Building Burns In Tel Aviv; Dozens Of Businesses Destroyed

Sending up a plume of gray smoke that could be seen for 45 kilometers to the east, the Merkazim Building in southern Tel Aviv caught fire during the night - and over 150 businesses were destroyed.
First Publish: 6/24/2003, 10:33 AM

Sending up a plume of gray smoke that could be seen for 45 kilometers to the east, the Merkazim Building in southern Tel Aviv caught fire during the night - and some of it even collapsed by this morning. Some 50 firefighting crews from all over central Israel are fighting the blaze, and seemed to have it under control by the afternoon.

The six-story Merkazim Building takes up some 70,000 square meters (over 17 acres), and houses well over 150 businesses. The Israel Insurance Agents Bureau has opened a hot line that Merkazim Building businesses can call and receive insurance-related information. The fire is suspected to have begun in a tire plant on the bottom floor.

One fire-fighter was seriously injured when the northern part of the building collapsed, and one or two other people were lightly hurt. The fire-fighting crews were unable to put out the fire, because they were not permitted to enter the building for fear it might collapse. They instead attempted to control the blaze, and in fact prevented it from spreading to the nearby gas station. Occupants of nearby buildings were evacuated, and all traffic to the area was diverted to other routes.