Carmel fire start Alon Haim
The start of the Carmel fire on Thursday, December 2, 2010. Photo by Alon Haim
Text size

The massive wildfire ravaging a large area of northern Israel was caused by negligence, not arson, Police Commissioner David Cohen said Saturday during a situation assessment at the Israel Police northern headquarters. Police believe that they know the identities of those who started the blaze.

The fire has been raging since Thursday, with Israeli and foreign fire-fighters still struggling to contain the flames, which have claimed the lives of 42 people and devastated thousands of acres of land. Thousands of people have also been evacuated from their homes.

The assumption of negligence is in line with the assessment of the police investigators from the Central Region, who said Friday that the fire had not been set deliberately. Initial investigations Thursday, shortly after the blaze started, also led to the conclusion that the fire was the result of carelessness and not malicious action.

Police officials told reporters during an update Saturday that they have “a good idea” who started the fire.

Those responsible are believed to be a family from the Druze village of Isfiya. Preliminary findings suggest that the fire broke out in a refuse dump next to the village.