dropping flame-retardents
dropping flame-retardentsIDF Spokesperson

After 52 hours of continuous firefighting, the massive fire in the Jerusalem mountains has been brought completely under control, Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi announced Tuesday evening.

A total of ten localities were evacuated: Tzova, Givat Ya'arim, Sho'eva, Ramat Raziel, Eitanim, Beit Meir, Shoresh, Ein Rafa, Ein Kerem and Ein Nakuba, and the Eitanim school and hospital were evacuated. Residents were able to return to their homes returned to their homes in all localities except for 'Eitanim,' and the homes of a number of residents in Ramat Raziel and Givat Ye'arim were damaged.

During the multi-day effort to battle the blaze, 1500 firefighters, 204 firefighting units and 20 firefighting aircraft worked day and night to bring the fire under control.

About 20 firefighters from the Palestinian Authority also assisted in efforts to combat the fire.

Tonight, the Israel Air Force's "Shimshon" planes dropped about 16 tons of fire retardants as part of an effort to help put out the fires in the Jerusalem mountains after a joint assessment of the IDF, Israel Police and fire and rescue services as part of a joint effort between security and rescue organizations in the area.

This is the first time that the "Shimshon" aircraft have been used operationally for this kind of mission. Military assistance included dozens of firefighters from the Home Front Command who took part in the firefighting effort, aircraft and observation of the Air Force that provided all rescue bodies with a real-time picture of the extent of the fires, soldiers from the rescue brigade who assisted in evacuating communities and the Air Assistance Helicopters and soldiers from Unit 669 who were on standby to assist in the evacuation of civilians.

The "Shimshon's" flame-retardant systems are still in the testing phase. However, Fire and Rescue Commissioner Dedi Simchi decided to bring them into service in light of the extent of the fires.

The fire had spread over 25,000 dunams (6,200 acres) before it was brought under control Tuesday, surpassing the 24,000 dunams affected by the Carmel fire which killed 44 people.

Commander of the Jerusalem firefighting district, Tafser Nissim Toito, warned that the ecological damage caused by the fire was severe and recovery could take many years.