Photo Credit: Judea and Samaria Fire & Rescue
Forest fire near Tzur Hadassah. June 4, 2021

A massive forest fire south of Jerusalem that threatened the Jewish town of Tzur Hadassah on Friday – and which was extinguished by firefighters – reignited on Saturday.

On Friday the flames broke out in a forest in the Jerusalem hills, near the Judean town of Tzur Hadassah, in Judea.

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The flames began to spread towards the Jewish city of Beitar Illit, and another Jewish community, Givot, on Saturday morning. Residents were evacuated by Israel Police and Border Guard Police officers from three streets in the Karkum and Rechas neighborhoods, according to the Hebrew-language N12 News outlet.

At least 16 teams of firefighters plus six firefighting plans and a helicopter were working tirelessly on Saturday night to contain and re-extinguish the flames.

On Friday, 35 firefighting teams and at least 10 firefighting planes were involved in the effort to extinguish the blaze.

At least 50 dunams were burned, according to N12 News.

The Jerusalem District Fire and Rescue Authority said that area residents may continue to smell the smoke rising from scorched areas.

Thus far, no physical injuries have been reported.

It’s not yet clear what started either of the fires. Jerusalem District Fire and Rescue Commander Tzafir Nissim Tuito told N12, “The fire spread widely from streets that were potentially at risk. . .It is too early to determine what caused the fire; we will conduct a comprehensive investigation.”

Kan 11 reports that items were found that raise the suspicion of deliberate arson.

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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.