Carmel fire Dec. 2, 2010 (AP)
Extensive flames approach the town of Tirat Hacarmel, northern Israel, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010. Photo by AP Photo / Dan Balilty
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Witnesses of the wildfire blazing through the Carmel forest and neighboring areas on Saturday describe frightening scenes of dozens of houses going up in flames, as firefighting aircraft fly back and forth, working to extinguish the flames.

The blaze, which has been burning since Thursday, is concentrated between the community of Beit Oren and a major road linking Haifa with Tel Aviv to the south, as well as between the village of Usafiya and the communities of Nir Etzion and Ein Hod.

As of Saturday afternoon, the center of the artist's community of Ein Hod, which is home to many famous galleries and museums, has not been damaged; several homes in the northern part of the community have.

At the center of the community, the Janco Dada Museum was spared from the flames. Museum director Raaya Zomer said most of the works in the museum were placed in storage beforehand, in case the fire reached them.

Sergio Charniak, an artist in Ein Hod who remained in his home overnight on Friday said the entire community was dark and covered in ash. Tree branches were lit up as sparks jumped from tree to tree, Charniak said.

"Of course I didn't sleep the whole night," Charniak said, explaining that he chose not to evacuate because he didn't want to leave his dogs, home, or the community.

Another resident of Ein Hod told Haaretz that he saw 20 homes burst into flames. The resident, David Ratner, said that despite being evacuated, many of the residents were returning to the village to help firefighters in their efforts.

A resident of the nearby village of Ayn Hawd reported that elderly, women, and children evacuated the village while a number of youth stayed behind in order to guard their homes.