Homes evacuated, highway partially closed due to fire near Jerusalem suburb

Closing of Route 1 to eastbound traffic comes ahead of Knesset vote on new government; 3 MKs evacuated by police

A fire near the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion on June 13, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A fire near the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion on June 13, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Police evacuated residents from several homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion on Sunday after a fire broke out in the area. An old age home in the nearby town of Motza was also evacuated as the flames spread Sunday afternoon.

The homes that were evacuated were those closest to the fire.

Numerous firefighting crews were working to gain control of the blaze, with six tanker planes assisting in the effort. The Israel Fire and Rescue Services suggested that the fire could have been started intentionally, according to Haaretz. Firefighters indicated that the hot, dry weather on Sunday and the low winds were aiding the flames to spread quickly.

Due to the fire, police closed the eastbound lane on part of the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The shuttering of Route 1 came shortly before lawmakers were set to vote at the Knesset in Jerusalem on a new government. Three members of the Knesset — Merav Ben-Ari of Yesh Atid, Esawi Frej of Meretz and Keren Barak of Likud — were reportedly rescued from the traffic jam by police and escorted to the Knesset in order to take part in the vote.

Last week, several large wildfires erupted on the outskirts of Jerusalem and the West Bank, leading to the temporary evacuation of some residents and numerous road closures. Reports at the time said authorities suspected the fires may have been deliberate acts of arson.

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