Firefighters battle several rekindled blazes in Jerusalem area

Fresh conflagrations come days after huge wildfire that destroyed large forested area was brought under control; Environmental Protection Ministry lifts air pollution warning

A small fire near Givat Ye'arim, outside Jerusalem, August 19, 2021 (Courtesy)
A small fire near Givat Ye'arim, outside Jerusalem, August 19, 2021 (Courtesy)

Several fires restarted in wooded areas outside Jerusalem on Thursday, after a massive blaze tore through the area earlier this week.

A dozen firefighting teams — including four planes — were helping to extinguish the blazes around Mount Eitan. Another eight fire crews were on the way, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services said.

There was no danger to any homes or property and “the incident is contained,” according to a statement from the fire service.

The blazes broke out at sites where fires raged earlier this week and were not fresh conflagrations, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry said it was lifting its air pollution warning for the area, citing a “substantial improvement” in air quality following this week’s fires.

Emergency services said Tuesday that they had gained full control of the flames following a three-day battle. Over 2,000 people had been evacuated from their homes since Sunday, when the fire started.

The enormous wildfire consumed some 25,000 dunams (6,200 acres) of forest outside Jerusalem — surpassing the scale of the Carmel fire, which burned 24,000 dunams.

Officials have predicted a rehabilitation process that may take decades.

On Wednesday, Channel 13 news reported that officials believed the fire was started by arson since it was ignited in two different places near Beit Meir, in an area that doesn’t see many hikers and where no objects have been found that could have started the fire by accident.

However, no footage has yet been found of any individual starting the fire or escaping the area. Officially, Fire and Rescue Services chief Dedi Simchi told the network that he wasn’t yet sure the wildfire was started by arson, saying that determination can only be made by police.

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