Firefighting Planes Deployed to Maintain Control of Blazes in Northern Israel

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Firefighter trying to put out a fire in Kfar Oranim, October 9, 2020.
Firefighter trying to put out a fire in Kfar Oranim, October 9, 2020. Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Firefighting efforts continued on Saturday morning after thousands of Israelis were evacuated Friday due to blazes in Israel's north and center.  

Two firefighting planes were deployed in the area of Mount Dvora in the Galilee, alongside 13 firefighting teams. Another four planes were deployed to put out large brush fires near Mount Dov in the Golan Heights, alongside eight additional firefighting teams. 

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The fires near Mount Dvora broke out Friday in Churchill Forest, near Nazareth, and firefighting forces are working to keep the fires from reaching the village of Daburiyya. 

According to firefighting forces, nearly 100 acres have been scorched, and an investigation has been launched into the cause of the fires.

A firefighter works at a house damaged by fire in Kfar Oranim, October 9, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The fires come following confirmation that this year's September was the hottest in Israel's recorded history. The Meteotech meteorological service said temperatures were expected to drop on Saturday, but that they would remain higher than average for the time of year, noting that Friday saw winds reaching a speed of 60 kilometers (about 37 miles) an hour in the north, contributing to extreme dryness. 

Overnight Friday, firefighting forces attempted to contain a number of fires near Nof Hagalil. Some 5,000 residents were evacuated from their homes. Eight homes in Nof Hagalil were damaged beyond repair, the municipality said on Saturday morning. The families will remain in a hotel, with expenses covered by city hall.

The municipality added that 3,200 citizens were allowed to return to their homes. Some 800 spent the night in hotels, with another 1,000 residing with family members.

Hundreds of residents were evacuated from other areas of Israel, following the fires that broke out in the Hefer Valley, Wadi Ara and the West Bank

Firefighting forces said that 250 fires erupted in open areas in Israel yesterday, among them, 13 were in central locations. In total, 12 firefighting planes were deployed Friday and three helicopters. They were able to contain 158 fires.

A representative of the firefighting forces told Haaretz, “Firefighters are continuing work to contain the fire and protect the citizens of Nof Hagalil and their homes. Overnight, we evaluated the continuation of the fight while refreshing our forces, and at this point no citizens are in danger. Firefighting efforts will continue throughout the day and I call on the public to listen for the instructions of emergency bodies.”

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