Fires raged Friday at multiple locations in Israel amid a scorching heat wave, causing delays at the country’s major international airport and even some evacuations in residential areas.
In Bareket, a small village near Ben Gurion Airport, residents were being evacuated Thursday afternoon. The smoke from nearby brushfires led to delays in planes taking off and landing at the airport.
Train service to the southern metropolis of Beersheba was also stopped on some lines due to a wildfire near the village of Lehavim.
The Route 5 highway eastward from northern Tel Aviv was closed for part of the route due to fires advancing near the road.
Fire and rescue officials warned Friday that the unusual heat wave coupled with exceptionally low humidity was a perfect combination for potentially damaging fires. Officials announced that no campfires should be lit over the Shavuot holiday weekend at parks or even in private yards.
By Friday at noon, every part of the country had seen temperatures rise above 35° Celsius (95° Fahrenheit), with parts of the Jordan Valley, riverbeds in the Galilee and Negev and areas of the coastal plain logging temperature in excess of 40°C (104°F).
Two major brushfires are drawing a majority of the country’s firefighting forces, including its fleet of firefighting aircraft: the fire east of Ben Gurion Airport, and another near the central city of Petah Tikvah. Some 6,000 dunams (1,500 acres) of the Nahal Besor national park in the south were burned in a fire in the area.
Ben Gurion officials said they were coordinating with fire safety officials and had rerouted the landing and takeoff routes to avoid the smoke from the nearby fire.
The unseasonable heat wave is expected to last through Saturday.