Firefighters Gain Control Over Jerusalem Fire, Police Suspect Arson

Fire broke out in three different places; Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial evacuated and nearby residents told to shut their windows.

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Firefighters have gained control over a large fire that broke out Sunday in the Jerusalem Forest and Mount Herzl area, in the western part of the city. The fire almost reached the Har Nof, Bayit Vagan neighborhoods and the Pi Glilot oil refinery.

Rescue teams evacuated the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial nearby, and police have asked nearby residents to close their windows.

The fire raging in the Jerusalem ForestCredit: JNF

In a press conference, Jerusalem District commander Niso Shaham said that in light of the fact that the fire broke out in three different places, it is investigating whether it was caused by arson.

The three areas where the fire broke out were the Tzipori Center, the Pi Glilot oil refinery and Yad Vashem.

Flames overtake Jerusalem Forest, July 17, 2011.
Fire ravages Jerusalem Forest, July 17, 2011.
Plane flies over Jerusalem Forest fire, July 17, 2011.
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Flames overtake Jerusalem Forest, July 17, 2011.Credit: JNF
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Fire ravages Jerusalem Forest, July 17, 2011.Credit: JNF
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Plane flies over Jerusalem Forest fire, July 17, 2011.Credit: JNF
Fire rages across Jerusalem Forest

According to Commander Shaham, at approximately 3:30 P.M. the police received reports of three fires in the Jerusalem Forest. Shaham said rescue teams arrived on the scene immediately and began battling the fires. "We had to evacuate Yad Vashem because of the smoke," he said. Referring to the nearby oil refinery, Shaham said there is only one tank containing liquid fuel. "The rest are empty but contain fumes," he said.

Four planes from the Elad firefighting squadron and additional planes owned by private companies sprayed water in an attempt to create a buffer between the fire and the residential neighborhoods.

According to Fire Service commissioner Shahar Ayalon, "the main problem is smoke. Whoever doesnt need to be in the area should leave." He added that Yad Vashem not in danger of being damaged.

Yad Vashem chairman Avner Shalev said the museum's personnel tried to keep the fire from reaching the fence around the building, and took steps to protect the artifacts and documents.

Magen David Adom said five people have been treated for smoke inhalation and four were taken to the hospital.

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