A forest fire that broke out overnight Monday in the Latrun area, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, forced the evacuation of residents of the nearby village of Neve Shalom from their homes.

The fire broke out at around midnight and quickly began to spread towards Neve Shalom, a cooperative village jointly founded by Israeli Jews and Arabs with a population of about 265.

Firefighters and police officers initially evacuated the first line of houses in the community which were threatened by the fire, but upon further assessment decided to evacuate the entire village. There were no injuries.

As of 3:30 a.m., 40 firefighting crews with 107 firefighters were on the scene and they continue to work to extinguish the flames and prevent damage to the village itself.

Officer Nissim Twito, acting chief of the Jerusalem district of the Fire and Rescue services, said, "Firefighters from the Jerusalem district, assisted by crews from around the country, are working with determination to put out the fire that is endangering the outskirts of the village of Neve Shalom.

"Our main goal at the moment is to protect the homes of Neve Shalom and contain the fire. We are focusing our efforts on subduing the fire as quickly as possible in order to prevent harm to people and nature," he added.

credit: דוברות כבאות והצלה מחוז ירושלים
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