Toxic Cloud Engulfs Acre as Firefighters Battle Metalworks Blaze

Mayors urge Environmental Protection Minister to close metal factory as fears of environmental damage rise when fire breaks out.

The Mayor of a northern municipality, in which a metal factory fire on Saturday created a thick cloud of smoke across the Bay of Acre, said the event proved that the battle led by the region's residents to remove the factory from its location was justified.

Firefighters, May 10, 2010
Eli Hershkovitz

Mayor Yehuda Shavit said that he intended to appeal to the Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan to execute his power and close the factory.

The residents living near the factory have spearheaded a battle against the factory's existence for several years, claiming that it causes illness due to the discharge of toxic smoke.

Kirya Ata Mayor YaaKov Peretz also condemned the factory's location and said that "we once again witness the illogical proximity of industries to vast residential areas around the Bay of Haifa."

"I have no doubt that this would not happen in central Israel around such large populated areas," he added.

Eight fire crews battled the blaze in an industrial zone south of the city. Although there were no injuries, there were fears of damage to the environment from toxic metal compounds released by the fire.

Environment ministry officials who arrived at the scene warned local residents to stay indoors, while police evacuated a local market.

Police and firefighters said at around 3:00 P.M. on Saturday that they expected it would take at least another four hours to control the fire.