Strong, dry winds spark fires around the country
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Strong, dry winds spark fires around the country

Several beaches and hiking trails closed to public, JNF asks Israelis to stay away from forests amid unusually windy weather

Firefighters battle a blaze at an industrial zone near the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on November 18, 2019. (Fire and Rescue Services)
Firefighters battle a blaze at an industrial zone near the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on November 18, 2019. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Unusually strong and dry winds have sparked fires across the country, with firefighting units on alert nationwide on Monday.

A section of Highway 6, a major north-south toll road, was closed for around three hours due to a fire that spread to both sides of the road in the area of Harish, in the northern Haifa district of the country.

The closure caused long tailbacks until firefighters, with the assistance of fire-fighting aircraft, gained control of the flames and the road was reopened.

Highway 67, in the north of the country, was also closed for over an hour due to a fire on both sides of the road.

A police patrol car blocks Highway 67 due to fires on both sides of the road, November 18, 2019. (Israel Police)

A blaze in a factory at the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank led to the evacuation of the site and closure of roads nearby.

Another fire in the village of Yesodot, east of Ashdod, threatened to reach its cowsheds. That fire appeared to have started in a hay barn.

Two firefighting planes were called in to help contain the Yesodot fire.

A fire engulfs a hay barn and threatens cowsheds at the southern Israeli village of Yesodot on November 18, 2019. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Another fire in an industrial zone next to the southern Bedouin city of Rahat threatened a candy factory.

And in Kiryat Haim in the northern city of Haifa, a fire led to the evacuation of an apartment building.

There were no injuries reported in the rash of fires.

Earlier Monday, a palm tree was felled by gusting winds in Kibbutz Bahan near Netanya, hitting and seriously wounding an 8-year-old girl.

The Jewish National Fund issued a warning Monday asking the public to avoid visiting forested areas in the coming days out of fear that the strong winds could flatten trees and send branches flying.

Firefighters battle a blaze at the Barkan Industrial Zone in the northern West Bank on November 18, 2019. (Fire and Rescue Services)

Forest rangers were out in force Monday in an effort to spot fires early, before they are spread quickly by the winds, the organization said.

Meanwhile, several beaches on the Sea of Galilee, including Levanon, Dugit and Tze’elon, were closed to bathers Monday after officials deemed them dangerous for swimming due to the high winds.

The Nature and Parks Authority announced it was closing a large number of hiking trails throughout the country in expectation of potentially dangerous weather conditions in those areas, including popular trails in the Carmel mountains in the north and the El Al and Jilaboun riverbeds.

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