The Jewish Federations of North America and their overseas partners American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the Jewish Agency announced Friday they were opening a special emergency fund to assist the international efforts to extinguish the Carmel forest fire that had been raging for over 36 hours.

The World Jewish Congress mobilized its teams on the ground in Israel, mainly assisting the displaced residents, and have provided so far up to 1,000 shelter beds.

Checks can be sent to the Israel Forest Fire Disaster Relief Fund, and made payable to The Jewish Federations of North America, care of: Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Funds can also be donated online.

Israel's largest-ever bushfire raged uncontrollably Friday night, taunting efforts by exhausted fire teams to battle the blaze as it threatened areas previously untouched by the flames.

By late evening, the fire, which broke out on the Carmel hill south-east of the northern city of Haifa, had claimed 42 lives, destroyed more than 8,500 acres of parched, drought-stricken land and devoured more than 4 million trees, and forced 17,000 people from 14 locations to flee their homes.

Meanwhile, the heads of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations wrote to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres to express their solidarity with the people of Israel and said they were  "confident that the American Jewish community will not only stand with Israel at this time but will be ready to assist in any way necessary."

“We express our condolences to the families of those lost, our support for those who have lost homes and property, and, of course, our support and prayers for those on the front lines fighting this conflagration," Chairman Alan Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein said in the letter.