Brushfires hit northern Israel causing injuries, evacuations

Brushfires hit northern Israel causing injuries, evacuations

22 November 2016

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Israel —   Neighborhoods evacuated in Zichron Yaakov as blazes at Latrun, Hadera and Atlit are brought under control.

Brushfires hit northern and central Israel on Tuesday, causing injuries and extensive property damage in Zichron Yaakov in the north and prompting home evacuations as winds spread the flames.

A fire that broke out near the eastern entrance to Zichron Yaakov spread rapidly. Nineteen people were reportedly treated for relatively mild injuries as a result of the blazes, The Magen David Adom emergency medical service reported that the injured included a week-and-a-half old baby, as well as a 1-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old.

Of the homes damaged by the fire in Zichron Yaakov, at least ten were completely consumed by the blaze.

Early Tuesday evening, a fire broke out near Rosh Tzurim, in the Gush Etzion bloc of West Bank Jewish settlements and another blaze broke out in the north, near the Hagit power plant east of Zichron Yaakov. Later in the evening, homes were also evacuated in the West Bank settlement of Dolev.

Overnight betwen Monday and Tuesday, in the Latrun region between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, residents of the community of Neveh Shalom were evacuated as a result of a fire in a nearby forest, but they were allowed to return to their homes during the day Tuesday.

Although there were no reports of injuries in the area, the fire burned an estimated 600 dunams (150 acres) of brushland. Authorities are investigating whether the blaze may have been the result of the negligence of hikers in the Latrun area or even that it was deliberately set.

Although November is normally the beginning of the rainy season in Israel, there has been little rain, resulting in dry conditions. That coupled with windy conditions has made the country more susceptible to brush fires and forest fires.

North of Zichron Yaakov, in the seaside community of Atlit, about 200 students were evacuated from a school as a fire broke out in an open area, but it was later contained by firefighters. Elsewhere in the north, a large forest near Horfish in the Upper Galilee that had been raging overnight was also brought under control.

South of Zichron Yaakov, on the outskirts of Hadera, firefighters halted the advance of a blaze that at one point threatened to damage a party center there.  

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