Israeli Suspected of Arson as Firefighters Battle Jerusalem-area Blaze

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Fire trucks in the Jerusalem Hills area, Thursday.
Fire trucks in the Jerusalem Hills area, Thursday.Credit: Israel Fire and Rescue Service
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

A wildfire broke out on Thursday in the Jerusalem area, and police suspect that a 30-year-old woman, who was taken into custody, started the blaze deliberately in a forest near Beit Shemesh.

The suspect had escaped a mental institution, according to police. 

Eighteen teams of firefighters and four firefighter planes are working to gain control over the fire, just weeks after a huge blaze burned through thousands of dunams of brush land and forest in the Jerusalem area. Communities in the area are not in danger, according to rescue services.

Nineteen firefighting teams were dispatched to combat the flames on Thursday evening, and firefighter planes will be deployed on Friday at dawn, rescue services said. The Jewish National Fund and the Nature and Parks Authority also assisted in attempts to extinguish the fire.

The suspect is a resident of the West Bank settlement of Hashmonaim. There has been no immediate word as to any possible motives.

In mid-August, several fires spread in the Jerusalem area, and took 52 hours and hundreds of firefighters to be brought under control.

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