As humans in northern Israel fled the area of a massive wildfire that blazed for a second day Friday, animals at the Hai-Bar nature reserve in the Carmel hills were under threat, despite earlier signs that the fire had been prevented from reaching the reserve.
Aircraft had successfully prevented flames from spreading within the reserve earlier Friday; but the planes cannot operate after nightfall, leaving Nature and Parks Authority personnel and firefighters on the ground with the task of protecting the site from the fire.
So far, there have been no reports of animals being hurt in the blaze.
Fire crews had embarked on a rescue operation to save the animals early on Friday. Fearing that the fire would reach the reserve, an Israel Air Force officer had asked to fly a rescue plane or helicopter to the area. Authorization for the mission was not granted, as the officer was told that the site was not "high priority" at the time, but aircraft were called to the reserve after flames spread towards the site.
Evacuation of the animals would required complex preparations which are impossible in the current circumstances.
Dr. Roni King, a veterinarian with the Nature and Parks Authority, warned Friday that under conditions of extreme stress such as these, the animals would be unlikely to flee.
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