Photo Credit: Northern Region Fire and Rescue Spokesperson's Unit
Forest fire in northern Israel. (August 2016)

What began as a brush fire in the Cana’an neighborhood rapidly morphed into an escalating situation in Tzfat on Sunday, evacuating homes and sending some people to the hospital.

Six firefighting teams were called to the scene to battle the flames.


At least seven people were taken to the emergency room at the city’s Ziv Medical Center suffering from smoke inhalation.

Four apartment buildings were evacuated due to the spreading fire, and a number of vehicles were damaged by the blaze.

The mayor declared a city emergency, thereby activating special procedures with the Department of Social Services that included opening shelters for those who were forced to leave their homes for their own safety.

Electricity feeds to a number of apartment buildings were shut down as the fire spread from one section to another.

The municipal engineering department later began testing damaged homes in the wake of the blaze, in order to see whether they were safe enough for residents to return home.

Just as firefighters brought the blaze under control in Tzfat early Sunday evening, a brush fire broke out in the Jewish community of Dolev, located in western Binyamin.

Firefighters in that area quickly brought the flames under control, however, and no serious damage was reported.

A fire also broke out in an open area in the Samaria Jewish community of Beit El, near Ramallah. The fire spread quickly, prompting the evacuation of at least 15 homes in the town. Three people were taken to the hospital for medical treatment related to the blaze, which was eventually brought under control during the afternoon hours.

A fire also broke out near the Jewish community of Meitzar, in the southern Golan Heights. IDF soldiers were evacuated from a nearby base due to concerns the fire was spreading towards the area.

Firefighters gained control over the blaze by early Sunday evening, which enabled the soldiers to return to their base.

It’s not yet clear what started these and other fires around the country.

Last November, a similar situation broke out, leading eventually to massive wildfires. Then, too, the blazes began as brush fires when there were hot and dry conditions across Israel; eventually it was discovered that half or more of the fires were set by Arab arson terrorists.

That may not be the case this time around; it’s way too early to make such a judgment. The weather in Israel this past week has again been hotter than usual, with sharav conditions prevailing more often than not. (A “sharav” or “hamsin” is a hot, dry desert wind.) Temperatures have hovered at 38 degrees centigrade, around 100 degrees fahrenheit, with windy conditions at times. The heat is expected to continue at least until Wednesday.


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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.