Fires throughout Israel destroy homes; thousands evacuated

(JTA) – Fires throughout Israel, fanned by dry conditions and high winds, have led to the evacuation of thousands of people from their homes.

Several homes have been destroyed by the conflagrations on Tuesday and Wednesday.

A brush fire that began Tuesday and spread to Zichron Yaakov, located at the southern tip of the Carmel Forest in northern Israel, continued to burn on Wednesday, damaging  dozens of homes and completely destroying at least 10 homes. Several adults and children were treated for smoke inhalation, as thousands were evacuated from the city.

At least 30 firefighting teams, 12 military firefighting units and four planes were working on Wednesday to control the blaze.

Also on Wednesday, firefighting teams were battling fires outside of Jerusalem near Beit Shemesh and near the West Bank settlement of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem.

Early Tuesday, the Arab and Jewish residents of the Neve Shalom coexistence community located on the outskirts of Jerusalem were evacuated after a forest fire burning out of control set fire to areas of the community.

Other fires were reported in Israel’s north near Hadera, Lachish, and the Haifa suburb of Nesher, and the town of Kfar Vradim, and in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem.

Police are investigating whether some of the fires are a result of arson.

High levels of pollution have been measured in the areas near the fires.

High winds are expected throughout Israel through Thursday with dry conditions continuing.

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