Israeli firefighters battle blaze near Jerusalem for third day

Israeli firefighters battle blaze near Jerusalem for third day

Rescue Service says 110 firefighting teams accompanied by eight aircraft working to combat the raging wildfire.

 

For the third day in a row, Israeli firefighters are fighting a wildfire that has burned through a large swath of woodland west of Jerusalem, threatening several communities.

The Israel Fire and Rescue Service said on Tuesday that 110 firefighting teams are battling the blaze, which has destroyed about 20 sq km  (7.7 square miles) of land, making it one of the country’s largest wildfires in history.

On Monday, Israel asked regional ally Greece for assistance in fighting the fire, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he was also reaching out to Cyprus, Italy and France for possible assistance.

Foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said Greece and Cyprus had agreed to send firefighting planes to Israel.
“The Greek foreign minister already said he will help as much as possible,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

In recent years, the wooded hills near Jerusalem have been particularly vulnerable to flames due to hot, dry summers and short winters. The fire, which started on Sunday, has covered Jerusalem in thick black smoke.

Dedi Simchi, the chief of the Incident and Rescue Department, said investigators were still trying to figure out what caused the fire.

“The fire broke out as a result of human activity,” he told reporters. “If it was neglect, if it was recklessness, if it was intentional, if it was arson, we don’t know.”
The ministries of the environment and health have issued warnings about “extremely high levels of air pollution” in numerous areas surrounding Jerusalem. If at all possible, children and pregnant women were advised not to go outside.


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