25.11.2016 | 20:55
Firefighters push back blaze outside Jerusalem, flames dying down
Some 60 firefighting crews managed to push back the flames near Nataf outside Jerusalem. According to fire official, the flames were under control and subsiding in most areas.
However, it was decided not to let residents go back to their homes, as it was still possible that weather conditions and winds could reignite the flames.
While most of the town has evacuated, a few dozen residents have stayed behind to assist in the firefighting efforts. One of them, Nataf's chairman Rami Matan, told Haaretz: "The wind is constantly tricking us. I'm on the porch seeing the flames getting near, I hope it won't draw any closer. The flames are very high, the mountain is enveloped in a carpet of fire. I've never seen anything like it."
Many firefighting crews from across Israel have arrived at the area, as well as Palestinian crews from Ramallah. "Firefighters are one big family, there's no difference," said Udi Gal, a firefighter and the spokesman for the firefighting services in Jerusalem.
Airtankers will resume their activities in the area only at dawn. An IDF helicopter is on standby in order to evacuate residents in case the roads close.
Earlier, Rama's Kitchen, a well-known restaurant just outside the town, was burned to the ground.
Maya Ben Zvi, the restaurant owner, said that they tried to put out a fire near the restaurant but didn't have enough water pressure. "We saw the tree burn and set fire to the entire restaurant," she told Channel 2. When the fire approached, they evacuated the customers. "We told them to get out, when the place caught fire we ran. We're all in pain over the life work that was incinerated in a second." (
Israel fire: Firefighters helps extinguish a new blaze that broke out in the town of Nataf, west of Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016.
Ahmad Gharabli, AFP