carmel fire report - Itzik Ben-Malki / Michal Fattal
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is preparing a report on the Carmel Fire. Photo by Itzik Ben-Malki / Michal Fattal
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Poor coordination between police and the Israel Prison Service contributed to the deaths of 37 prison service cadets on a bus during the first day of December's Carmel fire, a draft report on the disaster by the State Comptroller is expected to show.

The report is expected to be very critical of the decision-making process that led the bus to be sent to help with the evacuation of the Damon Prison and will point to critical communication failures between the police and prison service regarding checking access routes and alternative evacuation plans, given the risks posed by the blaze.

The draft is expected to be circulated to those investigated in about two weeks, who will be summoned to the State Comptroller's Office to explain their side before a final report appears.

Speaking to the Knesset State Control Committee yesterday about the progress of his report, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss said the draft report contained very harsh findings and revealed "a very high degree of negligence."

Lindenstrauss is expected to censure both Interior Minister Eli Yishai, as the minister responsible for the Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz.

The report is expected to point to shortcomings in forest fire prevention among the Fire and Rescue Service, the local authorities and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. Special emphasis is expected on the command and control capabilities of the Fire and Rescue Service, as well as the deficiencies in its coordination with the police and other services.

Final draft within months

The State Comptroller's Office refused to say when the final report will be published, but it will probably be in four to six months.

The comptroller is later expected to issue a separate report on the performance of the new firefighting air squadron, and a report on ethical problems in the Fire and Rescue Service that emerged during the main investigation.

Forty-four people lost their lives in the Carmel fire, including Prison Service cadets, police commanders, a civilian and a young volunteer firefighter.

Seventy-four houses burned down, 173 were damaged and 17,000 people were evacuated. Some four million trees over 32,000 dunams were destroyed.