Major fire on Israel-Jordan border endangers gas pipeline

Fire and Rescue Services says blaze south of Dead Sea not under control and moving quickly toward Israel; experts have warned dry weather could bring devastating fires

A fire on the Israel-Jordan border south of the Dead Sea, November 18, 2021. (Fire and Rescue Services/screenshot)
A fire on the Israel-Jordan border south of the Dead Sea, November 18, 2021. (Fire and Rescue Services/screenshot)

A major fire broke out near the Israel-Jordan border on Thursday morning, with Israeli officials warning it was out of control, moving quickly and threatening a gas pipeline.

In a statement, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services said firefighting teams were battling the blaze near moshav Ein Tamar, south of the Dead Sea.

“The fire is very big and is developing on the Jordanian side of the border, with easterly winds moving the blaze toward Israeli territory,” it said in a statement.

Four firefighting aircraft were aiding the effort.

Jordanian fire services were also operating inside Jordan and coordinating with Israeli authorities, according to the statement.

“At this stage, the fire is threatening the local gas pipeline and the firefighting efforts are focusing on halting the fire’s spread,” the service said.

It added that its staff was coordinating with the army to avoid local minefields.

Climate experts have recently warned that exceptionally hot and dry conditions this month could provide ideal conditions for a major fire.

With wildfires tearing across the country in recent days, experts said Israel was seeing an increase in trends of extreme drought, with conditions similar to those in previous years that saw devastating blazes.

“Over the past week there has been unusual weather across the country — extreme dryness that was accompanied by strong easterly winds of an intensity not seen for several years,” climate expert Dr. Amir Givati of Tel Aviv University told The Times of Israel.

“The extreme dryness of the vegetation combined with the dry air and strong easterly winds blowing across the country caused a wave of fires that spread quickly, and also a heavy haze that covered the country’s skies,” Givati said, explaining that the haze was caused by those same strong winds carrying dust from the deserts of Iraq and Jordan to Israel.

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