Published On: Fri, Nov 25th, 2016

Fourth day of Fire: Firefighters battle blazes in Jerusalem area overnight

US Supertanker to join battle against Israel's raging fires; Expected to land in Israel in the next 24 hours, the plane, which only became operational half a year ago, is considered the cream of the crop with its ability to carry 74 tons of water or flame retardant and operate in the night.

Fire in Israel Supertanker to make its way to Israel

 

US Supertanker to join battle against Israel’s raging fires; Expected to land in Israel in the next 24 hours, the plane, which only became operational half a year ago, is considered the cream of the crop with its ability to carry 74 tons of water or flame retardant and operate in the night.

The new plane, the Boeing-747 Supertanker only became operational half a year ago and is considered the cream of the crop of aerial firefighters in the world. Not only is it capable of carrying 74 tons or water or flame retardant, but its unique engine enables it to generate pressure which causes a rainstorm effect by the water or flame retardant released.

Israel contacted the American company Global SuperTanker, which operates the aerial firefighter, to look into the possibility of it being flown to Israel. Indeed, a supertanker previously owned by the company Evergreen before it went bankrupt was flown to Israel to assist in the 2010 Carmel Forest Fires.

Currently situated in Colorado Springs, the plane can release eight rounds of the the water and the flame retardant.

In addition to the Supertanker, the Foreign Ministry was instructed to approach as many countries as possible with the view to retrieving as many planes as possible.

Among others, France and Portugal were approached. The former announced that it would send two more planes on Friday morning. Russia also announced that it would send two additional planes to the two expected to arrive on Thursday night. The third Russian plane is capable of carrying 50, 000 cubic meters of water. The Ukraine will also send two firefighter planes while Azerbaijan has pledged to send one.

 

Fire that raged in Nahf near Karmiel (Photo Tomer Badash)

Fire in the Jerusalem Mountains overnight and early Friday morning

Firefighting crews were battling a large brush fire in the Jerusalem Mountains overnight and early Friday morning, while police arrested 10 arson suspects and one suspected of incitement to arson.

Twenty-five firefighting crews, including 60 firefighters, were trying to gain control of the fire in and around the moshav Beit Meir. All residents have been evacuated while ten houses were burned down and others damaged in the fire.

During the night, several of the residents got trapped inside the moshav when the fire spread to the only road leading out, but firefighting forces were able to push the fire back and allow the residents to flee.

In addition to the residents, 400 people staying at moshav Beit Meir’s guest houses were also evacuated. Some of the guests were residents of neighborhoods in Haifa that were evacuated on Thursday because of the fire that broke out there.

Not far from there, firefighting crews were working to stop a fire in Sha’ar HaGai, which is 23 kilometers from Jerusalem on Highway 1 that connects the capital to Tel Aviv. The forces were fighting to keep the fire from reaching a gas station. Residents from the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council were evacuated to nearby communities as the flames threatened their homes.

 

Battling the blaze in Beit Meir (Photo Jerusalem Fire & Rescue)

 

Police received reports that several suspects were seen fleeing the scene of the fire in the Jerusalem Mountains soon after it broke out. After a manhunt in the area, one suspect was arrested. Later, a second suspect was arrested.

A fire also broke out on Thursday night between the Druze town of Sajur and the Arab down of Nahf in the Galilee, near Karmiel. The fires spread up the mountainside and the flames reached the houses of the Jewish community of Har Halutz. The residents were evacuated from the community, while six of the houses’ yards were damaged by the fire. 16 firefighting crews battled the blaze, extinguishing it around 3am.

Residents of Harashim in the Galilee were evacuated on Friday morning after a fire broke out in the southern part of the community.

In Haifa, meanwhile, officials in the Fire & Rescue Authority said Friday it could take up to 10 more days to finish extinguishing all of the fires, after blazes broke out in hundreds of spots across the city.

Dozens of houses and public buildings were burned down and damaged in Haifa in the worst day of fire a city in Israel has ever known on Thursday.

Some 75, 000 people were evacuated from their homes and have yet to be allowed to return. Those who were initially taken to centers set up by the municipality were moved to hotels, hostels and retirement homes for the night.

On Thursday, some 150 people in the Haifa area sought medical treatment after suffering from smoke inhalation. Dozens of them are still being treated at area hospitals. In addition, one firefighter battling the blazes in the Jerusalem Mountains area was lightly injured and also taken for treatment.

Train movement from Kiryat Gat was stopped overnight because of a fire that broke out in two areas on Highway 6 near the train tracks. Parts of the highway were closed as firefighters were able to gain control of one fire and extinguish the other. The fire damaged some of the train’s communication systems.

Ynet News

BY Ahiya Raved, Asaf Zagrizak, Kobi Nachshoni, Omri Efraim, Roy Yanovsky and Eli Mendelbaum contributed to this report.

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