Nationwide fire-starting ban ordered for Friday as temperatures spike

Fire service braces for potential conflagrations after some 170 blazes broke out during last weekend’s heatwave

Cars burned in a large brush fire at Har Turan in the Galilee region, May 27, 2023 (Fire and Rescue Services)
Cars burned in a large brush fire at Har Turan in the Galilee region, May 27, 2023 (Fire and Rescue Services)

Israeli fire officials issued a nationwide fire-starting ban for Friday, amid concerns of conflagrations from an intense heat spike.

Thursday’s order from Fire and Rescue Commissioner Eyal Caspi bars the lighting of blazes in open areas throughout the country starting at 8 a.m. Friday morning until 11:59 p.m.

The KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund also put out a statement stressing to hikers that it’s forbidden to light fires in forested areas.

The warnings came after over 170 fires broke out across Israel during a similar heatwave last weekend, which caused some damage but no injuries.

Temperatures on Friday are expected to top last weekend’s peaks, with the Israel Meteorological Service forecasting extreme heat in most of the country, including highs of 41 degrees Celsius (105 Fahrenheit) in more inland areas and Eilat. It said strong winds were also likely.

The heat was expected to be somewhat less intense in higher elevated areas such as Jerusalem and the northern city of Safed, which respectively had highs of 37 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit) and 34 Celsius (93.2 Fahrenheit).

The meteorological service said the air was expected to be dusty Friday, further compounding the heat, while predicting some light rains were possible.

It also said the heat would ease some Saturday with a “substantial drop” in temperatures, which were still expected to remain elevated before falling in line with the season average on Sunday.

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