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Blaze breaks out near Jerusalem, a week after major fire in area

Wildfire brought under control after a short while; Eitanim hospital briefly evacuates children’s ward as a precautionary measure

A firefighting plane works to extinguish a blaze near Jerusalem, August 25, 2021. (United Hatzala)
A firefighting plane works to extinguish a blaze near Jerusalem, August 25, 2021. (United Hatzala)

A fire broke out Wednesday near the town of Givat Ye’arim on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, a week after a massive wildfire tore through the area.

The Fire and Rescue Service said ten firefighting teams and six planes took part in the effort to put out the blaze.

The fire was brought under control after around two hours, the fire services said, but added that firefighters were continuing to work to ensure it was fully extinguished.

The Eitanim psychiatric hospital briefly evacuated its children and youth ward as the fire neared the medical center’s grounds. It was not instructed to by the fire services, but did so as a preventative measure.

During last week’s major fire the hospital was evacuated entirely. Senior police officers recounted the tense and daring evacuation of the complex, which very nearly went up in flames with staff and patients still inside.

“The whole hospital was engulfed in smoke. It was one big chaos. Staff members, patients, all shouting,” Chief Superintendent Dvir Tamim, the head of the Yasam police unit told Channel 13 news last Tuesday.

The firefighting efforts ended up saving the hospital from burning, and it remained largely unharmed.

Last week’s enormous wildfire consumed some 25,000 dunams (6,200 acres) of forest outside Jerusalem since Sunday — surpassing the scale of the 2010 Carmel fire. Some residents lost their homes, others their life’s work. It scorched vast green forest areas that include beloved hiking paths and national parks, including the Sataf site and Har Hatayasim.

Israel had been sweltering under yet another heatwave with low humidity, providing ideal conditions for the flames to spread.

Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

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