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The Afula firefighter who died on Saturday from injuries incurred while battling the Carmel forest fire earlier this month was laid to rest yesterday. Danny Hayat, 35, was the 44th fatality of the Carmel forest blaze. He sustained severe burns in an effort to rescue cadets from the scene of an Israel Prison Service bus in the forest.

Thousands attended the funeral, and the procession departed from the Afula fire station. Hayat's casket was transported to the Afula cemetery on the back of a fire truck.

Hayat is survived by his wife, Hofit, and two sons, as well as his parents and two siblings. Hayat's wife is in her ninth month of pregnancy with the couple's third child.

Hayat was called to the scene of the prison bus along with his colleague from the Jezreel region fire department, Uri Samandayev. They were joined by 16-year-old volunteer firefighter Elad Riven. Samandayev and Riven died at the scene. Hayat sustained burns over 80 percent of his body, and was hospitalized at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Afula Mayor Avi Elkabetz announced yesterday that the city's rescue squad would be named after Danny Hayat.

Addressing Hayat's widow at the funeral, Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon said: "I know what dreams you had weaved together - and how they were destroyed in the blink of an eye."

Hofit Hayat eulogized her husband, noting that their son Koren asked after his father's death why Hayat could not have been on vacation when the forest fire broke out; their other son Itai simply asked where his father was.

Hofit Hayat added that if her husband had been on vacation that day, he would have gone to help put out the fire anyway. Speaking to her deceased husband directly, she said: "You are my hero."