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A spate of giant fires erupted over the weekend, spreading rapidly in dry, hot weather and high winds. Some 500 dunams of pine and natural forests in Carmel Park were destroyed on Friday afternoon. Yesterday morning a large fire erupted in the Jezreel Valley, devastating 1,100 dunams of brush, wheat and natural forest between the kibbutzim Ein Harod and Tel Yosef.

Seventeen fire-fighting crews - including those of Haifa, Hadera, Afula, the Jewish National Fund and the Parks' Authority - and four fire-fighting airplanes battled with the Carmel flames for hours before gaining the upper hand.

The fire began before noon and was fanned by the strong winds. On Thursday another fire broke out in Carmel Park, but the fire fighters said there was no link between the two fires. They think the Friday fire was set off by the careless use of barbecues on Independence Day on Wednesday, when hundreds of thousands of people went on hikes and picnics.

Amos Sabag, of the Jezreel Valley firefighters, said the kibbutz-area fire started in the kibbutzim's garbage dump.

Powerful easterly winds fanned the flames and seven fire-fighting crews and two airplanes were needed to subdue them.

Families renting weekend zimmers (bed-and-breakfast) in the kibbutzim Ein Harod and Tel Yosef had to be evacuated, since the flames came dangerously near the kibbutz houses.

Two people in Kochav Ya'ir suffered burns in a fire in a pine forest in the area. Firefighters succeeded in bringing the blaze under control.