A forest fire near Moshav Even Sapir, west of Jerusalem, reignited for the third time Thursday afternoon, a day after firefighters extinguished a blaze believed to have been intentionally started.
Residents were evacuated from their homes to escape the encroaching flames, and 15 fire crews, assisted by two aircraft, combated the inferno and had brought it under control as of 4 p.m.
Another fire reignited Thursday near Kiryat Tivon, outside Haifa. Eight firefighting crews were sent to battle the blaze with assistance from firefighting airplanes dispatched to the scene after completing their tasks near the capital. By 6:30 p.m. they had brought the fire under control.
Five houses on Zevulun Street in Kiryat Tivon burned down and others were damaged. Two thousand residents were ordered to leave their homes. All main roads leading in and out of the area were closed.
Haifa fire chief Arieh Regev said he believes the Kiryat Tivon fire — the sixth in the area in the past week — was arson. “It’s possible to call it negligence repeatedly, but it is unreasonable that fires break out because of negligence in the same place,” Regev told Ynet.
Another fire broke out Thursday evening near the industrial district in Beit Shemesh. Fire crews that had fought the Even Sapir fire earlier in the day were redeployed to Beit Shemesh to extinguish the new blaze.
On Wednesday, four Palestinians were arrested and questioned in connection with the igniting and reigniting of a large forest fire that destroyed 50 dunams (12 acres) of woodlands near Even Sapir.
Acting Jerusalem police commander Menny Yitzhaki said that, in addition to investigating the possibility that the fire was started by arson, police are checking whether negligence by local hikers may have been the cause.