Firefighters Fight Blazes Around Country Due to Heat Wave

Several blazes raged Thursday afternoon around the country due to the heavy sharav heat wave.

Three fires broke out Thursday in Luzit, Sedot Micha and Yesha'aya in the Beit Shemesh area. Firefighters were at the scene, and some 25 homes were evacuated.

A large fire erupted in a wheat field near Moshav Sde Zvi north of Be'er Sheva. The fire spread into the moshav and the fire department said that soon its residents will be evacuated.

Three fires are raging in the Haifa area: in the old garbage site, in the Kiryat Bialik industrial zone and in Rechasim.

Two fires were extinguished in the Be'er Tuvia industrial zone near Kiryat Malachi and near moshav Noam, close to Kiryat Gat.

Meteorological services predicted that Thursday will be the hottest day of the year so far. Temperatures reached 41 degrees Celsius in Tel Aviv by the afternoon, 31 degrees in Jerusalem and 38 degrees in Haifa. The hottest temperature was recorded in Palmahim - 42 degrees.

The heat wave is expected to break toward evening, with clouds partly covering the skies, with a chance of a light drizzle.

The heat wave will not last and temperatures are expected to plummet Friday, with a chance of light rain. The mercury will continue to fall and will stabilize by Saturday.

The Meteorological Service reported that the extreme temperatures Thursday were not rare, and that temperatures of this nature, and higher, are registered once every two to three years along the Coastal Plain and the northern Negev (and in the Tel Aviv area once every four to five years).

Temperatures of 42-45 Celsius were recorded along the coastal plain and in the northern Negev in June last year. Temperatures similar to Thursday's were registered on May 23, 1999. The most extreme heat was registered in 1970 and 1988. Temperatures of 43-46 degrees were registered along the Coastal Plain.

Meteorologist Nahum Yudovitch says that such weather is typical of transitional seasons. "This season is filled with heat waves that can also continue into June. At the moment, no other heat waves appear to be approaching in the coming days, but that doesn't mean there won't be more in the coming weeks," he said.