[Fire in Ben Shemen]
Israeli police evacuated residents from a number of towns in central Israel and the western Negev Thursday afternoon, as multiple blazes burned out of control, threatening residential areas.
Kibbutz Harel, located west of Jerusalem and about four-and-a-half miles north of Beit Shemesh, was completely evacuated Thursday afternoon after a large fire broke out in the area, threatening homes inside the kibbutz.
Fires also raged in the Ben Shemen forest near the town of Mevo Modim off of Route 443, prompting authorities to evacuate residents from Mevo Modim and the nearby towns of Gimzo and Kfar Daniel.
Police have closed Route 443 to traffic in both directions near Gimzo.
Firefighters are operating in the area to contain the blaze, and are using air units to aid in their efforts.
In addition, residents from the western Negev towns of Karmia, just north of the Gaza Strip, were evacuated Thursday after a fire broke out in the area. The fire prompted the closure of Route 3411.
Earlier on Thursday, the town of Beit Haggai in the Mount Hebron area was partially evacuated and six residents injured from smoke inhalation after a large fire broke out near the town.