Fire chief: We find ourselves in best situation since start of Carmel blaze (HAŽARETZ NEWS) By Haaretz Service 12/05/10)
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE
HA'ARETZ} NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-Top
Fire still burning in four sites in Carmel; U.S. supertanker arrives
in Israel to take part in firefighting effort.
Fire officials were cautiously optimistic as crews continued to
battle flames raging in the massive brushfire still burning across
the Carmel Mountains in the predawn hours of Sunday morning.
"We find ourselves in the best situation since the fire started,"
Shimon Romah, the head of the Fire and Rescue Services, told Army
Radio around 3 a.m. on Sunday.
Romah said that firefighters had overnight been able to preserve the
efforts they had made throughout the day on Saturday.
Romah added, however, that winds were intensifying.
There had been fear that the situation could take a negative turn
The fire, which has been burning since Thursday, has claimed 41 lives
and destroyed nearly 50,000 dunams of land in the Carmel region. On
Saturday night into Sunday morning, it was still raging in four
areas: Har Shokef, Nir Etzion, the Carmel Hai-Bar Nature Reserve, and
Firefighting crews said on Saturday evening that the fire has
weakened, though there was concern that the situation could change
overnight due to the inability to use most firefighting aircraft
during the hours of darkness.
"Though we are careful using the word ´control´, we do see some
weakening of the flames," said Boaz Rakia, the spokesperson of the
Israeli firefighters association.
On Saturday night, a Boeing 747 supertanker from the United States
landed in Israel to join the firefighting effort. The aircraft is
capable of carrying 95,000 liters of water and flame retardant liquid.
17,000 Northern residents have thus far been evacuated from their
homes as the wildfire has raged out of control in the Carmel hills
south of Haifa, Israel´s third largest city, since Thursday morning.
After a situation assessment of police and firefighting crews on
Saturday, it was decided it was safe to send residents of a few towns
back to their homes. The towns cleared for safety were: Kfar Galim,
Kibbutz HaHotrim, Megadim, Tirat Hacarmel, and the Denya neighborhood
Authorities are closely monitoring wind directions and are preparing
for the possibility that the fire will spread to additional
locations. Buses have been moved into to positions that will allow
for additional evacuations if necessary.
Police forces arrested Saturday two brothers from the Druze village
of Isfiya who are suspected of being responsible for the act of
negligence which started the massive fire.
Detectives believe the brothers lit a fire near their home in the
western part of Isfiya which spread and ultimately set the entire
Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the investigation
into the fire was continuing.
He said despite foreign firefighters helping to battle the blaze, it
was still out of control in tracts of northern Israeli forest.
The death toll from the blaze reached 41 on Friday. Most of the
victims had perished in an incident on Thursday involving a bus
carrying members of a Prison Service guards´ course who were heading
to the Damon jail in order to help evacuate inmates. (© Copyright
2010 Ha´aretz 12/05/10)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY