Israeli firefighters on Friday reined in a blaze that had spread across the country’s third-largest city of Haifa and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, but continued to battle more than a dozen other fires around the country for the fourth day in a row.
The over 60,000 Israelis evacuated began returning to their charred homes to assess the damage as police and firefighting units remained heavily deployed in the Haifa area for fear that the fires could be reignited due to the dry, windy weather.
Though no deaths or serious injuries have been reported, several dozen people have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Hundreds of homes were damaged and in a rare move, Israel called up military reservists to join overstretched police and firefighters and made use of an international fleet of firefighting aircraft sent by several countries.
A Boeing 747-400 Supertanker, the world’s largest fire-fighting aircraft capable of carrying 75 tons of fire retardant, is scheduled to arrive later Friday to help the efforts, though officials said it may not be needed by then.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a small village in the forests near Jerusalem was evacuated overnight as several homes there caught fire. Other small fires were under control, he added.
Later Friday, a large fire swept toward the village of Nataf on the outskirts of Jerusalem, causing authorities to evacuate all of its residents. Local witnesses say the blaze was caused by a firebomb hurled from a neighboring Arab village. READ MORE