Massive Fire in the Jerusalem Hills

Monday, August 16, 2021 2:52 PM

A massive fire broke out on Sunday, August 15th  in the Jerusalem Hills. As of today (17th) smaller fires still remain. Dozens of KKL-JNF firefighters and personnel deployed from all around Israel to extinguish the remnants.
 

 

More videos from KKL-JNF personnel at the scene here

 

Late yesterday afternoon (15.08.2021) a fire broke out near Beit Meir in the Jerusalem Hills. The hot weather and strong winds caused the fire to spread quickly, threatening other nearby towns as well. Thousands of residents were evacuated from their homes in Beit Meir, Shoeva, Shoresh, Ksalon, Ramat Raziel and Givat Ye'arim.
"It's a miracle that no homes were burnt", said Israel Fire and Rescue Services head Dedi Simchi.
 
KKL-JNF firefighting teams worked alongside Fire and Rescue Service personnel throughout the night to battle the flames. As the night wore on, the winds ceased and the temperatures gradually cooled, enabling the teams to slow down the fire's spread. Additional KKL-JNF teams arrived in the early morning hours to provide reinforcement and help prevent the possibility of renewed conflagration in the hotter hours of the day.

Hanoch Tzoref, KKL-JNF forester for the central highlands:

 
“In [my] 35 years in the central highlands region, this is the second largest wildfire that I’ve seen here, since the wildfire at Shaar HaGai [in 2016].  The strong wind has created a firestorm, with flames reaching dozens of meters high. The fire’s intensity and the speed of its spread [have been unparalleled] in recent memory.”

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed, but it can already be ascertained that the fire consumed thousands of acres of KKL-JNF forests and natural woodland and a major Israel Parks and Nature Authority reserve, causing great ecological damage to local flora and fauna.

Update #1

Monday, August 16, 2021 2:18 PM
As of now, the fire is still not completely extinguished in certain areas, and about 10 KKL-JNF firetrucks and over 100 KKL-JNF personnel are currently operating in forested areas on the slopes of Nahal Kisalon, Nahal Tzova, and Har HaTayasim (Pilot’s Mountain). A potent combination of strong winds and topography is causing an especially strong fire to burn on both banks of the Kisalon streambed.  
 
To date, about 8,000 dunams (approx. 2,000 acres)  have been burnt in KKL-JNF forests.
The Jerusalem Hills conflagration comes in the wake of a wildfire last Thursday in the Upper Galilee region, which devastated over 500 acres of Naftali Mountain woodland.

Update #2

Monday, August 16, 2021 4:11 PM

24 hours since outbreak:

Fires regain pace on Nahal Tsova in the direction of Mount Eitan. The entire western slope of Mount Eitan is aflame. The fire is continuing up the mountain and is also spreading towards the southern slopes.

Update #3

Tuesday, August 17, 2021 9:00 AM

Current estimates place damages at 5,000 acres of open areas burnt, including 3,000 acres of planted forest and natural woodland.

Since early this morning, dozens of KKL-JNF firefighters and personnel from all around the country have been dispatched to KKL-JNF forests in the Jerusalem hills.  Their main goal right now is to take advantage of the relatively favorable climatic conditions of the early morning hours to extinguish any burning remnants in the forests and to prevent the fires' revival in case of increasingly strong winds.