Two wind-whipped brushfires in forests near Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital Wednesday afternoon forced the evacuation of hundreds of people and threaten to engulf the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Center and Museum, located on the nearby hill of Mt. Herzl.
At least six planes and more than two dozen crews of firefighters on the ground are battling the fire, which has engulfed some houses in the Ein Kerem area . The blaze has forced the evacuation of other families as well as workers and visitors at Yad VaShem and the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood, where homes already have suffered heavy smoke damage.
Light rail service to Mr. Herzl has been suspended, streets have been closed, and traffic was temporarily suspended in both directions on Highway 1, the major artery linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Police also have closed off part the alternate Tel-Aviv-Jerusalem road, highway 443.
Firefighters in Judea and Samaria rushed to the capital to join the battle to contain the inferno.
Families who were forced to flee their homes in Ein Kerem have been evacuated to the Malcha office and commercial complex in southern Jerusalem. A second fire is burning out of control in the nearby Nataf neighborhood, where families have been evacuated to a moshav.
Several people have been treated for smoke inhalation.
The cause of the fire is not yet known, but several previous blazes in the area have been set intentionally by Arabs.