Firefighters struggle to contain blaze raging outside gas station on Route 1; other conflagrations near Modiin, Savyon, Nirit and Wadi Ara
As firefighters struggled to contain huge blazes raging through the northern city of Haifa throughout Thursday, emergency services were battling dozens more small- to medium-scale conflagrations across the country.
Concentrated efforts focused on preventing a fire in the Sha’ar Hagai area in the Jerusalem hills from spreading toward a gas station on the Route 1 highway. Dozens of firetrucks were at the site, as firefighters battled flames in the Jerusalem forest.
Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich confirmed Wednesday afternoon that some of the fires cropping up throughout the country were caused by arson, although he said it was unlikely they were the result of a coordinated effort.
Meanwhile, a small brush fire broke out on an empty plot of land adjacent to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, sending smoke billowing over the National Security Council building, across from the Hebrew University’s science laboratories, and into the nearby Beit Hakerem neighborhood.
At least two firefighting crews rushed to stop the flames, which threatened several nearby government agency buildings, and members of the prime minister’s security unit were on sight with fire extinguishers.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage and the blaze appeared to have been contained, according to witnesses.
In central Israel, the community of Nirit was being evacuated in the afternoon, according to police, as a brush fire broke out in the nearby Horeshim Forest. Several kilometers east of Nirit, a fire broke out at the entrance to the upscale Savyon community, prompting police to close routes 461 and 4622. Police asked drivers to avoid the area.
Following a large fire Thursday morning at the eastern entrance to the central city of Modiin, a second blaze broke out in the afternoon on the western outskirts of the city. Firefighters were attempting to prevent the fire from damaging cars and building at the Paatei Modiin train station, which, along with the Central Modiin station was closed down, with commuters forced to use the Ben Gurion Airport train station some 15 kilometers away.