The fire that raged throughout the town of Zichron Yaakov on the Carmel Mountain Tuesday erupted again around 4 AM, fanned by unusually strong gales, and four firefighting planes, 30 civilian and 12 IDF firefighting teams went in to push it back once more, Israeli media reported. Meanwhile, new spots burst in flames around the town and residents who had been permitted to return to their homes had to be evacuated again. Altogether, some 3,000 people had to stay out of their homes overnight.
On Wednesday morning police blocked access to several affluent neighborhoods where estimates are that the blazing fires are likely to return. Police sources have estimated that no one would be allowed back into the homes in Zamarin, Vilot Ba’horesh, and Givat Eden. Schoolchildren have been assigned to new schools in town, while public transportation in the risky areas has been stopped.
A series of fires erupted in several parts of Israel, on both sides of the “green line,” leading to the evacuation of dozens of families from their homes. According to police, in Zichron Yaakov, which was the focal point of several large scale blazes, 23 people were hurt, three remaining in hospital overnight; and 30 homes were damaged.
In the community of Dolev, Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, 17 miles north-west of Jerusalem, the fires continued to rage overnight, the result of several gas tanks catching fire. Some 20 homes were evacuated as 21 firefighting teams dealt with fires that reached a hight of 60 feet.
The fires have been put out in the Lachish forest, near Kiryat Gat, and in Revadim, a kibbutz east of Ashdod. Some 40 families were evacuated from Revadim due to heavy smoke pollution.
Up north, firefighters managed to control the fires that erupted in Naharia, a coastal city just south of the Lebanese border, and in Kfar Vradim in western Galilee.
Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan referred on Tuesday night to the 2010 “Mt. Carmel Disaster,” which claimed 44 lives and led to the evacuation of some 17,000 people. Erdan suggested the lessons that have been learned from that traumatic experience are reflected in “the communication between all the entities involved, the quick decision-making regarding the evacuation of residents and closing down major traffic arteries, and the risk evaluations being issued every few hours.”
According to weather reports, eastern winds are expected to reach 55 MPH speeds in the north and be in the 40 MPH range in central Israel. Such strong winds are not unusual this time of the year, but they rarely continue for a week and more as they have done this year.David Israel