Latest Updates Saturday Evening Fire in Northern Israel
As Russian planes continue battling Carmel wildfire, government rents Boeing 747-200 modified into aerial firefighting aircraft; plane expected to arrive Saturday night. Palestinian President Abbas telephones PM Netanyahu, offers 'any help needed'
Teen hero killed while fighting Carmel blaze 16-year-old Elad Riven lost his life while volunteering in battle against Carmel hills fire. Birthday balloons still decorate his home. Mother: He was my whole life.
The 16 year old, an only child, decided to volunteer and help battle the huge wildfire in the Carmel hills, when he got caught in the flames and lost his life near kibbutz Beit Oren.
"He was my whole life, I shared everything with him", cried his mother, who was the one who drove him to the fire services headquarters on Thursday to join the extinguishing efforts.
International Community Rallies Round Israel as Fires Rage December 03, 2010
Jerusalem, Dec. 3 – Turkey, Egypt and Jordan were among many countries rushing help to Israel to combat the nation’s worst-ever wildfire which has killed 42 people, destroyed homes and villages, consumed forests and is still threatening the major port city of Haifa. “We are talking about one of the worst disasters in the country’s history. This is hard day for the entire nation,” said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
- 42 dead – toll expected to rise
- Turkey, Egypt and Jordan among those sending aid
- Massive Russian firefighting plane on the way
Egypt, Jordan and Turkey were quick to offer help to the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and thanked him for his country’s help.
“We very much appreciate this mobilization and I am certain that it will be an opening toward improving relations between our two countries, Turkey and Israel,” Netanyahu said. It was his first conversation with the Turkish leader since the flotilla incident soured relations between the traditional allies earlier this year.”
With several people listed in critical condition and others reported missing, the death toll was expected to rise.
Emergency services evacuated more than 15,000 people from their homes as flames swept through at least 5,000 acres of woodland. Police arrested two people, residents of a Druze village, on suspicion of setting fires. The Jerusalem Post said they were detained after being seen hurling Molotov cocktails in a forest on a Carmel mountain hilltop.
Israelis watched helplessly as their homes were destroyed by flames hundreds of feet high. Firefighters said one village was burnt to the ground.
The IDF sent soldiers and equipment, including helicopters, bulldozers, medics and army units to combat the blaze. More help came from Greece, Bulgaria which sent 100 firefighters, Spain, Azerbaijan, Romania Russia, Cyprus, France and Britain. The United States also offered aid. Israel is better known for sending its own rescue teams and medical personnel to other countries to help in their disaster-relief efforts.
“The Russians are sending and we are waiting for the biggest firefighting plane in the world… an Antonov with huge firefighting capacity,” Lieberman told Israel Radio.
One of the main country’s highways was closed as trees smoldered and smoke billowed toward the Mediterranean coastline and flames closed in on a hotel and a spa south of the city.
“The size of the fire is huge, the wind is very strong and there is a problem accessing the mountains and valleys,” said Yoram Levi, a spokesman for Israel’s fire and rescue service. “We don’t have big aircraft that can carry a large amount of water. It is not enough for a large-scale fire.”
“As rescuers and firefighters continue in their work, the United States is acting to help our Israeli friends respond to the disaster,” U.S. President Barak Obama said at a candle-lighting ceremony on Thursday marking the Jewish Chanukah holiday.
Jewish organizations in the U.S. and beyond have launched campaigns to help the victims. The Jewish National Fund, which planted a large percentage of Israel’s forests, called for public support.
American firefighters are on alert to join the operation. The Israel Emergency Volunteers Project will coordinate any call up for the volunteers who have been fully trained under the auspices of the EVP.
The Israeli cabinet met on Friday to discuss the crisis with questions being asked about Israel’s preparedness for such disasters.
Police found a bike, a bag, and a wig inside near a fire center in Tzur Shalom on Friday, leading them to believe that the fire was caused by an arsonist or arsonists.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Post that there are 3 fire centers - Tzur Shalom, the Atlit - Tirat Hacarmel area, and the Carmel hillsides. In one, Tzur Shalom, north of Haifa, "we located suspicious items pointing to arson. As for the other two major fires, it is too early and the incidents are to large in scale to know their causes at this stage." The death toll in the fires rose to 42 on Friday, according to Army Radio.
Heroism, resilience… and gnawing questions By DAVID HOROVITZ Jerusalem Post 12/03/2010 13:54 Israel, with world help, is rising to fight the northern inferno. When the flames are finally doused, there will be some harsh lessons to learn. At midday on Friday, 25 hours after the start of the inferno that has taken more than 40 lives, forced 13,000 people from their homes and consumed vast swathes of the northern Israeli countryside, Israel’s utterly under-equipped Fire Service offered the first real glimmer of hope.
“We do not have the fire under control, but we do have the situation under control,” said Hezi Levy, the Fire Service spokesman. “We have commanders deployed on the ground in all the key areas. We are properly coordinating our work, between the ground operations and the air forces. We have our priorities straight, focusing on preventing the blaze from destroying residential areas.”
For more of the analysis go to jpost
Foreign firefighting teams began aiding Israel Friday morning as it battled one of the worst fires in its history. The blaze is moving west, threatening a Haifa neighborhood and the Druze town of Isfiya. The first to join forces were Greek and Bulgarian teams, which had arrived in the Ramat David Air Force base before first light. A British helicopter landed in Haifa later in the morning, having come from Cyprus along with a Cypriot plane and chopper.
- 5,000 acres torched in blaze
- Lieberman: Gov’t knew of plane shortage
- Aharonovitch: Criminal probe to follow fire
- America to the rescue
- Identification of bodies underway
- Paramedic: I saw dozens of bodies
- Massive fire claims 41 lives
- Netanyahu to declare day of mourning
- Haifa police chief gravely hurt in blaze
- World comes to Israel’s aid
Despite foreign efforts, however, the fire began to spread towards Haifa’s Denia neighborhood in the morning. In Tirat Carmel firefighters reported that though they had succeeded in blocking the flames in the town, winds and the dry weather rekindled them until they once again threatened homes. A new fire was identified at Na’aman Junction on Friday.
Fire crews and planes in the area were attempting to tackle the flames.
Abu-Kabir forensic institute has so far identified 41 victims, some of whose names have been publicized:
• Oshrat Pinto, 26, Safed
• Ronen Peretz, 34, Ashkelon
• Hagai Jurno, 28, Kiryat Gat
• Roi Biton, 28, Kiryat Gat
• Yakir Suissa, 25, Dimona
• Inbal Amoyal, 26, Dimona
• Siom Tsagai, 31, Netivot
• Kfir Ohana, 30, Ofakim
• Wasim Abu-Rish, 28, Yirka
• Nisher Tapash Adal, 33, Beit Jan
• Misher Vizel Eran, 31, Kiryat Bialik
May our memory of them only be for a blessing.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel is heading out to the fire zones to collect pets from evacuated residents who cannot care for them.
Representatives of the Society will arrive at the location of each and every evacuated resident.
Members of the public who wish to contact the Society should call 1599502005
Palestinian firefighters helping to battle blaze
Palestinian Authority firefighters are working to help battle the blaze raging in northern Israel, especially in areas near its territory, north of Jenin.
The head of the Palestinian Civil Defense said forces have been assisting Israel since yesterday. “Palestinian teams helped the Israeli side because this is a human disaster,” he said. (Ali Waked)
From the Israeli newspaper Haaretz update
- Disaster in the North: 40 dead as fire rages in Carmel Mountains
- 15,000 evacuated as huge blaze threatens Haifa
- Turkey offers Israel help in controlling fire despite tense relations
- Fire department was slow to respond, pilot says
- Obama offers help as fire ravages Israel’s north