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Fire chief: Unclear if Jerusalem-area blaze was arson, but it was man-made

Fire Commissioner Dedy Simhi attends a press conference regarding the major fire which broke out in a forest outside of Jerusalem, on August 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Fire Commissioner Dedy Simhi attends a press conference regarding the major fire which broke out in a forest outside of Jerusalem, on August 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Dedy Simhi says that fire officials cannot confirm if the fire that blazed outside Jerusalem for three days was arson — but they are certain that it was instigated by humans.

“I’m not certain yet that it was arson, although as I have said continually, it was man-made,” Simhi tells Channel 13 news, leaving room for the possibility of an accident or negligence.

“In order to confirm that it was arson, we need all sorts of elements, which is more police work than firefighting work.”

While Simhi said earlier today that the fire in the towns west of Jerusalem was under control after 52 hours — firefighting forces will not leave just yet.

“We’ll be staying all night and also tomorrow to confirm completely that the fire will not reignite,” he says.

Simhi also points to an extensive series of fires currently blazing across the Middle East and Europe, saying the overarching issues “demand immediate attention” from officials.

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