A major forest fire that broke out Wednesday afternoon near the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ein Kerem was brought under control by the evening.
“The centers of the blaze are under control,” said Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino. “We can say that most of the places that caught fire were put out, and there are no new ones. All the areas are under control.”
“The chances of arson are high, but not certain,” he said.
He added that the flames reached several houses in the area, some of which caught fire.
Forty firefighting teams and six aircraft were fighting the flames, according to the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Fire and Rescue Services.
Teams from West Bank settlements and the firefighters’ training school were also called in to help contain the fire.
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shahar Ayalon were present at the scene.
Hundreds of residents of nearby apartment buildings were evacuated as the flames reached roads in the area.
Winds shifted direction mid-afternoon, and crews were focusing on prevented the flames from reaching the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum complex, which sits on a nearby hill. Yad Vashem employees were evacuated in the late afternoon.
The section of the light rail system near the forest was also shut down.
Three people were lightly injured by smoke inhalation, according to Channel 2.
Ein Kerem, a picturesque neighborhood in the capital, is home to several significant Christian sites, and the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem is located nearby.
Another fire broke out near the village of Nataf near Abu Ghosh Wednesday. Five firefighting teams arrived at the scene.