Israel — This week, Israel marked the fourth anniversary of the Carmel forest fire that claimed 44 lives and destroyed 6,000 acres of land.
In what has become known as one of the most devastating events in Israel, more than 1,000 people gathered at the Carmel Disaster Victims Memorial to remember those whose lives were extinguished.
The memorial is located at the bend in the forest road near Kibbutz Beit Oren where a bus evacuating most of the victims caught fire. The fire lasted five days, starting on December 2, 2010. The ceremony was attended by families of the victims and several ministers including Police Commissioner Yohana Danino, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Fire and Resuce Commissioner Shahar Ayalon.
Michael Boiker, the father of Brig. Gen. Lior Boker who died in the fire, called on senior officials to make continued efforts to make the fire and rescue response system in Israel more efficient.
Boiker said that supporting Israels Fire and Rescue Service will help prevent another disaster and more victims.
While Israels firefighting capabilities have dramatically improved due to lessons learned from the Carmel fire, many of the victims families are still facing legal and bureaucratic obstacles in their search for answers and compensation.
According to a State Comptrollers Report published in June 2012, it was discovered that the Fire and Rescue Service was short at least 200 firefighters and 130 vehicles.
Emergency personnel only had access to 10 percent of the required amount of fire retardant that should have been used when the fire broke out. While Israel should have had 250 tons of the retardant in stock and an additional 200 tons for emergency use, the countrys total inventory only amounted to 20 tons.
Over the last four years, things have improved dramatically. Overt 20 new fire stations have been built since 2012 and several hundred new firemen were hired. The current inventory of fire-retardant materials is listed at 1,680 tons, with another 240 tons on order.
Helping to overcome the environmental disaster, several organizations have been fervently planting trees throughout the Carmel Forest over the last four years to help regenerate the scarred area.