The hot dry weather coupled with high winds have led to a spate of fires breaking out around Israel. Some of the fires were caused by negligence but in others arson is suspected.
A huge forest fire raged this morning near the Nataf community in the Judea region. Police arrested four part-time workers who were paving a road near the community on suspicion of lighting a bonfire on a nearby mountain which caused the fire.
The Deputy Fire Commissioner issued a directive prohibiting lighting bonfires in open areas. Violation of the directive constitutes a criminal offense which carries a prison sentence of up to six months. The police say that at present all possibilities for the cause of the fire are being investigated, including negligence.
The fire caused the evacuation of 70 families from Nataf who were taken to nearby Abu Ghosh. Two houses were burnt in the fire. 25 fire squads battled the fire with 8 fire extinguishing aircraft aiding them from the air. Police closed the road leading to the community. Residents returned to their houses a few hours later.
Jerusalem District Police Commander Yoram Halevi, who came to survey the situation together with emergency personnel stated that "we are continuing to work in the area to save lives and to speedily get the community back to routine." The fire in Nataf spread in the direction of the nearby communities of Neve Ilan and Mevo Horon and firemen worked to contain the conflagration.
In the morning the fire which broke out yesterday in the Zichron Yaakov region was reignited due to high winds. The fire in Dolev was also reignited and tens of teams of firemen battled to contain the fires with the help of aircraft spraying extinguishing materials from the air.
Residents who returned to their houses in Zichron Yaakov after the fire erupted there yesterday were evacuated a second time this morning. More than 30 fire squad together with 12 miltary fire squad are battling the Zichron Yaakov blaze.
Brush fires broke out in the North as well this morning -in Nahariya, between Kfar Veradim and Kfar Samia and between Yarka and Jat. Fire squads were summoned and succeeded in controlling the blazes.
Schools in Zichron Yaakov opened as usual except for in the three neighborhoods evacuated Yesterday and this morning. Pupils in those neighborhoods were transferred to other schools and kindergartens in the town.
During the course of the night more than 60 fire squads worked to extinguish the fire in the community of Dolev in the Binyamin region. Two were lightly injured from smoke inhalation and were evacuated to hospital. Some families were evacuated from the community and some structures and caravans were damaged.
Fire squads also worked overnight to extinguish 13 brushfires and forest fires which had broken out in the Galilee region.