Jerusalem District firefighters spent hours battling flames at a forest fire on Thursday in the Carmila Forest near the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh.
Fifteen fire and rescue teams from Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and surrounding stations coordinated operations to fight the blaze and worked to keep it from spreading to the nearby community of Beit Meir.
Residents living in the first and second lines of houses in Beit Meir were forced to evacuate due to the thick smoke that swept through the area. They were forced to remain out of their homes for hours as firefighters battled to keep the flames from ravaging the community.
By early evening, fire officials said the flames were brought under control. However, it was still unclear when residents would be allowed to return to their homes.
The recent hot and dry weather has made local conditions combined with the brush and leaves a deadly, combustible combination — particularly when the wind picks up in the afternoon hours, or from a carelessly thrown match after lighting a cigarette.
Nevertheless, there have also been a number of cases in which fires were caused by Arab arson terror attacks. The cause of today’s fire has not yet been determined.