14-year-old From Carmel Region Admits to Accidentally Starting Massive Wildfire

During police probe teen admits to throwing burning Hookah coal into open area in the forest, which caught on fire immediately.

A 14-year-old boy from the Carmel region admitted Monday to throwing a piece of burning coal into the forest and causing what later became the largest and most devastating forest fire in Israel's history.

Dan Oren.

Police arrested the teen early on Monday, and he admitted during his interrogation to smoking a Hookah pipe in the forest, and later disposing the burning piece of coal into an open area in the woods, which caused a fire to erupt.

The teen said that he was so astounded at what had happened that he ran back to school and didn’t report the incident to anyone.

He will be brought before the Haifa Magistrate's Court on Tuesday for deliberations on extending his remand.

Earlier on Monday, the Haifa Magistrate's Court released two Druze teenagers who were suspected of igniting the fire in the Carmel.

Police arrested the brothers on Saturday, who were residents of the Druze village of Isfiya, aged 14 and 15. The court remanded them for three days.

The brothers' father said that the two were not responsible for starting the fire, and were not present at the scene of the fire when it started.

"My sons are innocent," the father said. "The policemen came and took them away from home as if they were terrorists."

According to the father, the fire broke out several kilometers away from the family's house. He claimed that he and his children were unrelated to the fire and even helped firefighting efforts.

"They are not connected to this, they do not smoke and they did not start a campfire. They are good and innocent kids and we will not let them be maliciously framed."

Police Commissioner David Cohen said on Saturday that the fire was caused by negligence, and not arson, during a situation assessment at the Israel Police northern headquarters.

The Carmel fire claimed 41 lives and destroyed nearly 50,000 dunams of land in the Carmel region.