Israelis braced for another heat wave this weekend, with officials issuing a ban on lighting fires in national parks, forests and nature reserves in hopes of preventing a rash of wildfires across the country.
Israelis Fire and Rescue Services Commissioner Tafser Eyal Caspi conducted a situation assessment at the start of the weekend to determine responders’ readiness level for the dry weather and intense heat that is expected to blanket the country.
Operations control centers and forces were boosted and placed on maximum alert, with teams conducting inspections at parks, forests and other areas with a record of past fires. Aerial firefighting planes were also placed on high alert and are scheduled to conduct patrols, along with special drones, over known fire “hot spots.”
Starting Sunday at 8 am and continuing through Monday night at midnight, a ban will be in force prohibiting fires in parks, forests and open spaces throughout the country.
Temperatures were expected to reach at least 36 C (97 F) in Jerusalem and 32 C (90 F) in Tel Aviv, and are likely to hit 40 C (104 F) in Eilat, Tiberias and Beit Shean until Monday.
Temperatures were expected to rise even further on Sunday, though scattered showers were also possible. Monday will see the heat abate only slightly, with further relief later in the week.
Israeli firefighters have had a busy summer, having also been deployed to help fight wildfires in Greece and Cyprus as well, along with European firefighters.