Golan Heights Bushfire Ravages Thousands of Dunams in Nature Reserve

Fire apparently erupts after tourists burn toilet paper near the archaeology site Umm el-Kanater and throw it away.

A huge bushfire destroyed thousands of dunams in a Golan Heights nature reserve on Saturday.

Brush fire
Yaron Kaminsky

Dozens of Parks Authority officials, firefighters, soldiers, and farmers from the area battled to extinguish the flames with the help of aircrafts.

According to the Upper Galilee firefighter's brigade, the fire erupted after tourists visiting the archaeological site of Umm el-Kanater set toilet paper on fire and threw it away while it was still on fire. The fire quickly spread to the area near Samach River, one of the largest rivers in the southern Golan Heights.

Large military forces, volunteers from the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, and municipal workers have been battling the flames since the fire erupted on Friday alongside four aircrafts.

According to Yair Elkayam from the firefighter's service in the Upper Galilee, the heavy heat wave and dry winds made it difficult to battle the flames, and the fire continued to spread for 30 hours until it was finally extinguished.

Over 13,000 dunams were destroyed by the flames. Bushfires in Israel are a common phenomenon in the summer.