Firefighters battle massive day-old blaze west of Jerusalem
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Firefighters battle massive day-old blaze west of Jerusalem

At least 15 crews and four planes operating at three sites in the Sataf forest, where 2,000 dunams are believed burned; Jerusalem fire chief warns hikers to stay away

Illustrative: Smoke rises from a large forest fire in the Sataf area west of Jerusalem, October 26, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Illustrative: Smoke rises from a large forest fire in the Sataf area west of Jerusalem, October 26, 2017. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

At least 15 firefighting crews and four planes were still battling the forest fire in the Sataf area west of Jerusalem on Friday morning, almost 24 hours after it began.

The Fire and Rescue Service teams were bolstered on Friday by JNF firefighters at three sites where the blaze still burned. According to officials, one of the sites is a steep mountainside, and firefighters have struggled to find stable perches from which to spray at the flames.

One fire engine was itself overtaken by the flames overnight, but no firefighters were hurt.

Over 2,000 dunams (some 500 acres) of forest and brush have been burned, according to initial estimates.

There is no word yet on the cause of the fire, which began just before 3 p.m. on Thursday.

Jerusalem fire chief Moshe Suissa warned hikers to stay away from the area, which is famous for its trails, streams and ancient ruins.

“Any change in the direction or speed of the wind could spread and intensify the fires, with the danger that hikers in the area could become trapped,” Suissa said in a statement released by the fire service on Friday.

Police officials said they had closed the area to hikers on Friday in keeping with the fire service warning, posting cruisers at major roads entering the Sataf forest near Hatayasim mountain.

Bet Shemesh fire chief Reuven Itzhak, who was overseeing the firefighting efforts, said Friday that the blaze posed no danger to any inhabited areas nearby.

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