Massive Jerusalem fire forces evacuation of neighborhoods, hospital and Yad Vashem – Jerusalem Post

Firefighters evacuate over 200 homes in Ein Kerem, Kiryat Yovel before containing blaze; hospitals take in displaced patients.

Dozens of fire-fighting units from across the country, including six airplanes and two helicopters, battled for hours Wednesday to contain a raging fire in the Jerusalem Forest resulted in the evacuation of more than 200 homes in the capital’s Ein Kerem and Kiryat Hayovel neighborhoods, as well as Yad Vashem.

According to fire officials, the nearly seven- hour blaze was finally contained at approximately 7:30 p.m. after damaging several homes. While no serious injuries were reported, numerous people were treated by Magen David Adom paramedics for minor smoke inhalation.

“The fire has been contained, but not been entirely extinguished,” said Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. “Hundreds of fire fighters and police officers are remaining at the scene until it is out.”

Rosenfeld said the cause of the fire remains unknown, and that an investigation has been launched.

As the blaze spread throughout the afternoon, Shaare Zedek Medical Center personnel organized to accommodate the influx of patients cut off from Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem.

Fire crews assembled from across the country to battle the blaze, which raged over an estimated 40-60 dunams (10-15 acres), as hundreds of police officers were dispatched to ensure the safety of thousands of endangered neighborhood residents.

Police closed off roads near the fire to vehicles and pedestrians, and the light rail was temporarily closed between Denmark Square and Mount Herzl.

According to Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Kobe Erez, it is believed the fire started in the Jerusalem Forest at roughly 1 p.m.

“It started somewhere in the woods, but we still don’t know the details of how or where,” Erez said.

Several homes in Ein Kerem and Kiryat Hayovel were damaged during the blaze, he said, although Yad Vashem and all area hospitals were spared. As a precaution, the Israel Electric Company shut down service in much of the area to avert further danger.

Asaf Finkelstein, spokesman for Aley Siach, an organization that treats and houses disabled children, said up to 40 children living in two homes in Kiryat Hayovel were evacuated to an alternative shelter in the capital.

“The whole neighborhood is under a cloud now and the children will have to spend the night in a strange environment,” he said. “We were told that we cannot return until the fire is extinguished.”

Judy Siegel contributed to this report.
Arson investigated in massive Jerusalem Forest fire – Jerusalem Post
06/26/2014 12:36

‘We have 2 major leads we are working on and should have answers soon,’ says Jerusalem Fire Department spokesman.

After firefighters and rescue workers finished extinguishing the remains of a massive inferno in the Jerusalem Forest Thursday that resulted in the destruction of five homes, the evacuation of two neighborhoods and Yad Vashem on Wednesday, police said it had developed two strong leads in the case.

“We presently have two promising lines of investigation,” Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. “The first involves a group of children seen in the area whom we suspect may have been playing with matches and accidentally started the fire, and the other is arson.”

Citing an instance of arson in Abu Ghosh two weeks ago, Rosenfeld said police utilized forensic experts at the site of the fire in the Jerusalem Forest to help in the search for suspects.

“We are working around the clock and hope to determine who was responsible for this soon,” he said.

The near-150 acre blaze raged out of control for much of Wednesday afternoon and early evening, spreading perilously close to the bucolic Ein Kerem and Kiryat Hayovel neighborhoods.

It took dozens of firefighting units from across the country, six airplanes, two helicopters and hundreds of police officers to contain Wednesday’s blaze, which forced the evacuation of more than 200 homes.

The fire also cut off road access to Hadassah University Medical Center in Ein Kerem for much of the day, resulting in a near medical crisis.

Despite the power and breadth of the blaze, there were only three minor injuries reported due to smoke inhalation, fire officials said.

“We are grateful that there were no serious injuries,” a Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said.


Authorities investigating arson in massive Jerusalem wildfire – YNET

Hundreds of people were evacuated as flames threatened residential in capital; firefighters battled to keep blaze from reaching Yad Vashem.

06.26.14 See link below for arrrticle with pictures.

The Israeli authorities are investigating suspicions that a massive wildfire that threatened dozens of homes in Jerusalem on Wednesday was started deliberately.

Dozens of teams of firefighters battled the blaze, which raged through the Ein Karem and Kiriyat HaYovel neighborhoods, causing fears it would reach the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Fiiremen fought to stop the flames from reaching the museum, which had been evacuated.

A spokesman for the Jerusalem fire service said the organization is pursuing two major leads, the Israeli media reported Thursday – a group of children spotted fleeing the site of the fire as it started, and the possibility of arson.

Meanwhile, Fire Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon told Israel Radio on Thursday that it was still unclear whether the fire was caused by negligence or arson. The initial assessment, however, is that the fire started in one place.

Ayalon warned of an increased risk of brushfires in elevated locations such as Jerusalem and Safed this summer, due to the large numbers of trees felled during the winter storms.

More than 50 firefighting units took part in the battle extinguish the fire, which left three people lightly injured from smoke inhalation. Fifteen structures were damaged by the flames, of five of which sustained serious damage.

The brushfire erupted in the afternoon and spread quickly from the wadi to residential areas. Dozens of IDF personnel also turned out to help battle the blaze.,7340,L-4535027,00.html