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Firefighters battle large blaze in northern Israel, close to Lebanon border

Highway between Manara and Yiftah closed due to heavy smoke; fire official says no danger to homes

A firefighting plane is seen over a fire near the towns of Manara and Yiftah in northern Israel, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces via Israel Fire and Rescue Services)
A firefighting plane is seen over a fire near the towns of Manara and Yiftah in northern Israel, July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces via Israel Fire and Rescue Services)

Firefighters battled a large blaze in northern Israel, along the Lebanon border on Saturday.

The Israel Fire and Rescue Services said 20 firefighting teams, four planes, and additional teams from the Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) were working to halt the spread of the fire, between the towns of Manara and Yiftah.

Route 886, which stretches between the two towns, was closed due to the heavy smoke, local authorities said.

A Fire and Rescue Services official said there was no danger to any homes in the towns, but the fire was not yet under control in late afternoon.

It was not immediately clear what ignited the fire.

Israel experiences a massive wildfire every few years, with especially large ones in 1989, 1995, 2010, 2016, 2019 and 2021. Some of those blazes are suspected to have been sparked by arson or negligence.

Climate models show they’re getting more frequent and more fast-spreading, in part due to climate change bringing rising temperatures and a longer dry summer season.

Governmental authorities and other bodies ramped up efforts to prepare for this summer’s wildfire season, clearing underbrush and other overgrown flora that could provide fuel for brush fires.

A 2017 government report recommended establishing a single supervisory body to oversee a coordinated nationwide effort to implement fire prevention measures in all Israel’s forests, irrespective of who owns or manages them. The recommendation has never been implemented.

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