Firefighters Say Carmel Fire Will Take a Week to Be Extinguished

Police spokesman says negligence, not arson, is most likely the cause of the worst forest fire in the country's history.

The wildfires blazing through the Carmel forest will take a week to put out, firefighters said at a press conference held at a command center in Haifa on Saturday.

The firefighting aircraft which are currently flying back and forth across the county, working to put out the blaze, can only be used in daylight, officials at the press conference explained. At night, strong winds strengthen the fire and cause it to spread to other areas.

Carmel wildfire - AP - Nov. 3, 2010

Firefighting aircraft from countries across the world have been working together with at least 10 Israeli aircraft in attempt to contain the wildfire since early Saturday morning.

While the fire was at one point attributed to arson, police are now saying that negligence is most likely the cause of the worst forest fire in the country's history.

Israel Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that the investigation into the fire, which has burnt down thousands of acres of forest and prompted the evacuation of 17,000 people, was continuing.

He said despite foreign firefighters helping to battle the blaze, it was still out of control in tracts of northern Israeli forest.

According to the initial investigation, the wildfire started at one location west of Ussifiya. It is believed that household trash and tires that had been discarded in the area caught on fire and the fire spread. Investigators are looking into what exactly caused the trash to ignite.

Two male residents of Daliat al-Carmel were released on Friday after having earlier been arrested on the suspicion that they had attempted to ignite fires in the Carmel hills region.

After being questioned by police, it became clear that the two were not responsible for the acts they were suspected of.