05/24/2010 07:00

Cloud from blaze caused area residents to stay indoors by Gov’t instructions.

The Acre Municipality decided Sunday to wait until the Galilee Fire Department and Environmental Protection Ministry investigations into Saturday’s fire at the Hod factory were concluded before deciding whether to order the factory’s owners to come to a hearing.

“If we find that they violated their business license, we will not hesitate to shut them down,” Acre Mayor Shimon Lancry said during an emergency meeting he called for relevant city and government officials.

He noted that it was a miracle that no one had been hurt when the massive blaze erupted at 11 a.m. Saturday. It took 22 firefighting teams to douse the flames, which caused a massive black cloud over much of the area as well. A pile of waste on the factory’s premises apparently caught flame.

On Saturday, the Environmental Protection Ministry took the precautionary measure of asking residents to stay indoors until the cloud dispersed. Ministry Director-General Yossi Inbar was quoted on Channel 1 Saturday night as saying that the particles released did not reach toxic levels.

Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan had ordered a criminal investigation launched into the fire by Saturday night. There was no word when that investigation would be completed.

Meanwhile, the Galilee Fire Department’s spokesperson’s office said Sunday that forensic teams were combing through the remains of the torched factory looking for indications of what caused the blaze. As of yesterday firefighters were unable to determine what caused the fire and said that the investigation could take several days.

The ministry and the Acre Municipality also decided to train municipal inspectors to patrol the industrial area, in addition to ministry inspectors.

Environmental Protection Ministry Northern District Head Dorit Zis said a tender would go out in the coming months to remove the piles of trash from the factory’s premises. While the trash is located on the factory’s premises, it was not the responsibility of the factory to deal with it, she said.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.