Fire Breaks Out Near Jerusalem, Homes Evacuated

Fire chief says the blaze appears to be man-made, but it is unknown whether it was caused by negligence or arson

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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The fire near Jerusalem, on Tuesday
The fire near Jerusalem, on TuesdayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

A fire broke out by the town of Shoresh near Jerusalem in what Israel's fire chief says appears to be a man-made act.

A firefighting plane over the Jerusalem mountains, on TuesdayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The police and fire crews at the scene evacuated the residents of the homes closest to the blaze as it spread over an area of 100 dunams (about 25 acres).

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A nearby shopping center and gas station, where firefighters gained control over the flames after about two hours, were also cleared out. Highway 1 from Sha'ar Hagai interchange eastward was blocked off from traffic but have since reopened. Route 6 from Nahshonim Junction interchange northward Is blocked as well. 

Residents watch the fire from their homes near Jerusalem, earlier todayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg
A fire raging near Jerusalem.

Thirty fire crews, ten firefighting planes and a helicopter have made their way to the scene. According to the fire department, more than 300 dunams of woodland burned down.

Fire Chief Didi Simchi said that the fires do not seem to have broken out spontaneously due to the heat wave gripping Israel, and that it appears to have been set by a person. "We don't know if it's negligence or malice, but we'll deal with that later," he told the Kan public broadcaster.

Israeli firefighters work to battle the blaze in the Jerusalem hills, earlier todayCredit: Ohad Zwigenberg

About two months ago, a large fire broke out in the same area that went on for six hours. Over 70 fire crews and ten planes battled the blaze. According to firefighting services, about 2,650 dunams (654 acres) of forest were burned. Dozens of residents of Ma'aleh Hahamisha were evacuated as the fire spread towards the kibbutz.

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