05/23/2011 07:09

Jerusalem fire and rescue services respond to 180 incidents of out-of-control bonfires over the course of celebrations.

There was a significant rise in respirable particulates in the air following Lag Ba’omer bonfires on Saturday night, measurements taken by the Environmental Protection Ministry showed. The increase began about an hour after Shabbat, as indicated by air quality measurement stations, with the strongest concentrations of respirable particles smaller than 10 micrometers occurring in Givatayim (234 micrograms per cubic meter), south Tel Aviv (200), Jerusalem’s Shmuel Hanavi neighborhood (179), Rehovot (170) and Ashkelon (170). On a typical clear day, there are only 60 micrograms of such particles per cubic meter. The measurements may have been affected, however, by both the locations of the bonfires in relation to the measurement stations, and meteorological conditions such as wind direction and speed in each specific area, the ministry said.

Jerusalem fire and rescue services responded to 180 incidents of out-of-control bonfires over the course of the night. There were double the normal amount of firefighters on duty for the holiday.

Most of the areas with problems were religious suburban neighborhoods that border the forest, such as Har Nof, Pisgat Ze’ev, Ramot and Neveh Ya’acov.

The bonfires were quickly contained, except for two. A fire that reached power lines on Rehov Bar-Ilan Street in the haredi Artzei Habira neighborhood forced the electric company to temporarily shut down power to the area, and a car burst into flames in the Beit Yisrael neighborhood, damaging a house.