The death count from the worst forest fire in Israel's history rose to 43 yesterday after Jalal Bisan, one of the Israel Prison Service cadets on the bus that was trapped in flames en route to evacuating a prison in the path of the fire, succumbed to his injuries.

Bisan, 29, from the mainly Druze village of Jatt in the Upper Galilee, left a wife and two children. He will be laid to rest at noon today in the Jatt cemetery.

Bisan was admitted to Haifa's Rambam Medical Center on December 2, in critical condition and with burns on 90 percent of his body. He remained sedated and on a respirator for nine days, until he died yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon members of Bisan's family braved the fierce weather to gather at the Jatt community center after his death was announced.

In addition to his wife and children, Jalal leaves behind his parents, Ghazala and Fallah, a former police officer, as well as one brother and three sisters.

Before enrolling in the cadets' course, Bisan served as deputy shift commander at Nitzan Prison.

"Jalal believed his place was in the prison service and he aspired to advance within it," said IPS District Commander Nazim Sabiti, who lives in Jatt himself. "He was selected from among many candidates for the officers' course, whose graduates were to have filled the prison service senior ranks. He was a serious-minded guy who could be trusted," Sabiti said.

Bisan was the second fatality from the fire who came from Jatt. Biber Shadi, 35, was in the same officers' course and died in the fire that engulfed the bus taking the cadets to help evacuate Damon Prison.