Photo Credit: Maor Kinsbursky / Flash 90
Jerusalem District firefighters wrap up and get ready to leave.

Residents in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit HaKerem and Romema are home once more and all the roads leading to the Jerusalem Forest have reopened, after firefighters successfully extinguished a large fire on the slopes of the Jerusalem hills late Thursday afternoon.

Jerusalem District Police reported early Thursday evening that residents in the Romema neighborhood and a number of other areas began returning home as firefighters got control of a fire that had raged at least two hours in the Jerusalem Forest.

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Residents living in apartment buildings on Rehov Panim Meirot were ordered earlier to evacuate due to heavy smoke from the fire. At the same time, police also began evacuating elderly residents at a senior citizen residence on Sorotzkin Street, along with members of the staff. A number of residents were also evacuated from the area of Meshoreret Rachel and Arazim Streets, towards Beit HaKerem.

“Numerous people were evacuated suffering from smoke inhalation,” said United Hatzolah emergency medical response spokesperson Raphael Poch.

The fire began just before 4 pm in the forest below the neighborhood. At least five firefighting crews were busy on the slopes of the capital battling large forest fires that broke out in the Jerusalem Forest. Four firefighting planes also worked together with the crews to put out the blaze.

Police and security forces operated in the area along with firefighting crews as well.

Due to the thick billows of smoke, traffic was stopped from Herzl Boulevard to Beit HaKerem, Ish Shalom Boulevard and the roads leading towards the Jerusalem Forest.

“The efforts of the firefighters succeeded in slowing the spread of the fire,” said a spokesperson for Jerusalem District Police, and ultimately stopping it entirely before the flames got completely out of control.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.