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December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Firefighters’

U.S. Firefighters Rush To Help Israel

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

With Israeli firefighters struggling to bring Israel’s epic fires under control, volunteer firemen from the U.S. came without hesitation to help during the crisis.

“[The fires] were bad,” fire chief Rick Nessner from Combine, Texas, told CBN News. “I’ve been on some wild land forest fires back in the States, and they were just as bad as those. You see some of the California fires and such. They got pretty bad here as well.”

Billy Hirst, U.S. director of the Emergency Volunteer Project, said that “when you stand in front of it, it will burn right over you. If you get behind it, you can’t catch up to it.”

With Israeli firefighters stretched to their limit, the call for help went out on Thanksgiving Day to the U.S. firemen.

“Amazing how all the American people stood behind Israel when we made the call – from the firefighters to the supporters to the people who said, ‘How can we help?’ ” EVP founder and CEO Adi Zahavi told CBN News.

“Probably within six hours, we had 39 people ready to go,” said Hirst.

When the firemen arrived, they deployed throughout the country.

“Kind of hit the ground running as soon as we got here,” said Jacob Windell, with the L.A. County Fire Department. “We started going out on calls right away. We were able to help out with some wild land fires, with some structural, apartment fires, as well as going on routine calls.”

“We were stationed all the way from Ashdod to Haifa,” Hirst said.

Some of the American firefighters came during big moments in their lives.

“Just before I came, I proposed to my girlfriend so she is now my fiancé, Kathleen Humphries, and we’ve been doing wedding planning over the phone,” said Benjamin Arnold of the L.A. County Fire Department.

Jewish Press Staff

Foreign Aerial FireFighters to Leave Tuesday

Monday, November 28th, 2016

The international aerial firefighters who came to the rescue of the State of Israel in its hour of need will return home Tuesday after receiving the thanks of the nation at a special ceremony led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Hatzerim Air Force Base in southern Israel.

Northern and central Israel remain on high alert, but the rest of the country is gradually returning to normal — as normal as is possible, that is — in the aftermath of a week in which 2,000 fires ravaged the Jewish State. After two full days without any major fires, officials sent home about half of the Home Front Command reservists called into service as tens of thousands of dunams of forest and brush land went up in flames along with hundreds of homes.

Last week, firefighting aircraft arrived to help battle nearly 2,000 blazes from Russia, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Canada, Spain, France and the United States, which responded to a request for its “SuperTanker.” The U.S. Boeing 747 SuperTanker from Colorado Springs is the largest firefighting aerial aircraft in the world and is capable of continuing to battle flames even after dark, while carrying up to 19,600 gallons of water or fire retardant. It also produces enough pressure to create eight rounds of a rain-like environment in fighting any blaze — a boon to any force battling a major forest fire, as was happening in Haifa and in the Jerusalem Hills.

Russia sent two giant Beriev Be-200 firefighting aircraft, each of which has a capacity of 12 tons (3,170 gallons) of water, or up to 72 passengers. The aircraft also have contain unique fire-fighting equipment that allows the plane to scoop water while skimming the water surface at 90-95% of takeoff speed — a crucial necessity in battling the constantly-appearing blazes that dogged firefighters all along the central and northern coastline.

Fire Services spokesperson Yoram Levy said fire stations in the north and along the coast would remain on alert with extra personnel due to the severity of the fires that had struck those areas. He added that firefighters had battled a total of 1,773 brush fires from November 18-26 but that no active sites remained at this point.

In Haifa alone, some 1,600 residents were left homeless with 527 apartments completely destroyed; 75,000 in the port city were forced to evacuate from their homes in 11 neighborhoods. These figures do not include the hundreds of other Israelis who were also forced to leave their homes, including dozens who were left homeless, in Zichron Ya’akov, communities in the Jerusalem Hills — including Moshav Beit Meir — and communities in Judea and Samaria, such as Halamish.

Hana Levi Julian

Arrests Made as Israel Burns

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

A number of arrests have been made by security personnel as Israeli firefighters continued on Thursday to battle blazes raging across the center and north of the country, with communities in the south opening their doors to those who were forced to flee the flames.

“It’s likely that there is a nationalist motive in some of the arson cases,” Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh told reporters at a briefing in the northern city of Haifa on Thursday.

“We have a special integrated investigation team that is monitoring everything that is happening across the country,” he said. “I don’t want to get into questions regarding where [we suspect] arson and where we do not. If this is… arson, it could be nationalistically motivated. It’s certainly not just [simple] pyromania,” he emphasized. “And there have been arrests. But Alsheikh declined to share further details.

“There are some cases of arson, and lots of cases that are not arson,” he allowed, but revealed little else.

Four Arabs from the Palestinian Authority have been arrested so far on suspicion of having deliberately set the fires that continue to blaze across the Jerusalem Corridor.

Officials from the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said in a statement they are investigating the possibility that some of the fires are actually terrorist attacks.

Earlier in the day, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said in a statement that up to half of the fires raging across the nation were, in fact, caused by arson. High winds and dry weather, he said, meant that a spark as small as a cigarette butt could ignite a blazing forest fire.

In Haifa, a state of emergency was declared. Some 60,000 people were evacuated from their homes, at least 100 were sent to city hospitals suffering from smoke inhalation. More than a dozen neighborhoods were evacuated, local trains stopped running and the local airport was shut down.

Fires near the Paz Bridge, Haifa Bay and the city stadium were reported, with high winds and dry conditions helping the flames to spread.

Some 350 firefighters and Home Front Command rescue personnel working with 115 fire trucks battled dozens of blazes across the port city.

Southern Israeli communities have again swung into action — as they did during prior wars — and are asking families on a pre-arranged list to take in those who were forced to flee their homes.

In the northern Negev city of Arad, the S. family told JewishPress.com, “We’ve really got no room, since we moved into a smaller house since that last time, but we might take in a couple. We’ll probably put the kids in the living room; they’re still pretty small.”

Hesder yeshiva students from the Ohr Yeshu’a Yeshiva in the Neve Sha’anan neighborhood caught an Arab teen red-handed as he made kindling from cardboard boxes to start another fire, Rotter.net reported. The teen managed to escape, but the students were at least able to put out the fire.

Four road workers were arrested Wednesday in the mixed-population community of Nataf, near Jerusalem, for not properly extinguishing a fire they started in order to cook a meal. They were freed Thursday.

Hana Levi Julian

­­Israel On Fire: Netanyahu, Erdan to Ask Neighboring Countries For Help

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

By Andrew Friedman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Wednesday that they would ask Greece, Croatia, Cyprus and possibly Turkey to send firefighting aircraft overnight to help Israeli crews subdue brush fires that continue to rage around the country.

Weather forecasts for Thursday indicate continued high winds and low humidity, leading fire and police officials to fear that additional fires could break out. Israel Police aircraft conducted dozens of firefighting sorties Wednesday, but officials fear a spike in fire activity tomorrow could overwhelm Israeli capabilities.

As of this writing, fire crews successfully pushed the fire raging near the Jerusalem-area community of Nataf away from the community, and rescue crews had allowed residents to return to their homes. Fire teams worked to ensure the fire didn’t reignite near the town.

Also Wednesday, fires broke out in Karkom, near Tiberias.

By 5 p.m. police aircraft had assisted ground crews with some 70 sorties, totaling dozens of flying hours. Airborne crews dropped approximately 30 cubic meters of fire retardant and 200 tons of liquid on the fires.

In addition, Israel Parks and Nature Authority director Shaul Goldstein said Authority inspectors have been assisting fire crews battle the Zichron Yaakov and Nataf fires since Tuesday. Thus far the fires have destroyed thousands of dunams of wild brush.

“These are terrible scenes to look at,” Goldstein said while touring the site at one flash point. “A whole world has been burnt. Animals and a rich plant world that we couldn’t manage to protect. More than the stiff punishments that should be meted out to the people responsible, we must give deep explanations to the public. These fires are not predestined.

“Over the past two years the Parks and Nature Authority has constructed more than 1,000 dunams of buffer lines at a cost of NIS 600,000 ($154,600)… I call on the government to fund [additional] buffer lines and to maintain them in open areas,” Goldstein added.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israel Police Estimate Fires Could Burn For Days

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

Forest fires and other blazes around the State of Israel continued to burn Tuesday night, with hundreds of firefighting teams and aircraft engaged in keeping the flames at bay.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh told reporters Tuesday evening that at least two more days would be required to bring the series of brush and forest fires under control, given the unseasonable hot, dry weather conditions, combined with the high winds that made it difficult to control the spread of the flames.

Late Tuesday night, at least four fires were still burning out of control in Zichron Yaakov, Kiryat Gat, Gush Etzion and the Western Galilee. More than 200 homes in Zichron Yaakov, south of Haifa had all been evacuated due to the fires. At least 19 people were treated for smoke inhalation, and three were hospitalized at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in Hadera. Twelve homes were destroyed, and another eight homes were damaged.

Health officials advised the residents of Zichron Yaakov who returned to their homes to remain indoors with windows closed, in order to avoid inhaling smoke. In several areas, the electricity was still disconnected as an extra precaution.

In the small community of Dolev in the Binyamin region, firefighters finally managed to get the blaze under control at about 11 pm Tuesday night, but residents had not yet been allowed to return to their homes, due to the thick smoke still emanating from the site.

Firefighter accessing water to battle the flames.

Firefighter accessing water to battle the flames.

Residents in the Gush Etzion community of Geva’ot also faced a risk when fires broke out in nearby forest early Tuesday afternoon. Although no evacuation orders were issued, Firefighters were engaged in battling those blazes for most of the afternoon.

Geva'ot forest fire.

Geva’ot forest fire.

Fires were also reported near Kfar Vradim, and in the western Galilee, about 10 kilometers east of Nahariya, near the Lebanese border. A blaze also broke out near the Haifa suburb of Nesher, and in Hadera, south of the port city, earlier in the day.

The fires followed another blaze overnight between Monday and Tuesday in a forest to the north of Bet Shemesh, near the Latrun Monastery. Residents of Neve Shalom -Wahat al-Salam, a mixed Jewish-Arab settlement, were evacuated but fire crews extinguished the fire by early Tuesday. Residents returned to their homes around mid-day.

Shortly after 10 pm, fire officials reported that a brush fire broke out near the southern Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, 20 kilometers east of Ashkelon. Fire crews from both cities reported to the site.

Kibbutz Revadim in southern Israel, along the coastal plain, was also battling a massive blaze Tuesday night.

Dairy barn seen with fire in the background at Kibbutz Revadim.

Dairy barn seen with fire in the background at Kibbutz Revadim.

The dairy barn and the chicken coop of the agricultural community were in flames by nightfall, with the blaze still out of control. None of the kibbutz members or firefighters were injured.

Fire in Gush Etzion.

Fire in Gush Etzion.

Another brush fire broke out near Kfar Yarka as well.

Andrew Friedman of TPS contributed to this report.

Hana Levi Julian

205 Firefighters Still Guarding Zichron Yaakov

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

As night fell in the small town of Zichron Yaakov, the electricity remained disconnected Tuesday evening around the area where homes were damaged from a massive fire.

At least 10 homes were destroyed and more than a dozen residents, including a number of babies and children, were taken to the Hillel Yaffa Medical Center, suffering from smoke inhalation during the course of the day.

Firefighters continued to mop up smaller fires that continued to burn around the small city. Residents who were evacuated received permission to return home, but were warned to stay alert.

Some 205 firefighters remained in the area and were spread out to fight the fires that continued to burn.The winds picked up towards the evening hours, making it more difficult to control the flames, officials said.

At least 40 firefighting vehicles and eight firefighting planes were engaged in battling the blaze. According to Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, the cause of the massive blaze “seems to be weather conditions.”

Hana Levi Julian

Fire Burns Geva’ot Forest in Gush Etzion

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

A fire broke out in the Geva’ot Forest in Gush Etzion early Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters were at the site battling that blaze as well.

Geva'ot

Geva’ot

The forest is located in Judea, in the westernmost area of Gush Etzion. The area is named for the hills (“giva’ot” in Hebrew) from which the Biblical Bila’am spoke (Numbers 23:9), and is just a few minutes’ drive from Jerusalem.

Some 988 acres of the land surrounding Geva’ot was declared part of Israeli state land two years ago, to the consternation of world leaders and the Palestinian Authority. But the move comes in accordance with general Israeli policy to consolidate the Israeli settlement blocs in Area C that would have remained under the control of the State of Israel regardless of which final status agreement was reached with the Palestinian Authority.

At present, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, now in his eighties, continues his years-long policy of refusing to meet for direct talks to resolve the final status issue between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, as was called for under the internationally-recognized Oslo Accords.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/fire-burns-gevaot-forest-in-gush-etzion/2016/11/22/

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