500 Acres of Forest Burnt in Jerusalem Mountains

Sunday, October 29, 2017 2:43 PM

KKL-JNF firefighters and equipment were on scene battling the flames, which were eventually subdued late on Friday.

A large forest fire broke out on Friday noon, October 26, in the region of Mount Eitan in the Jerusalem Mountains. The steep incline of the slope, together with strong winds, made the firefighting, which went on all day, difficult. About 500 acres of natural woodlands and planted forests went up in flames. Towards Friday evening, the fire was finally brought under control.

The fire began on the afternoon of Thursday, October 27. Large numbers of firefighters, along with fire trucks and fire-extinguishing aircraft, arrived at the scene and fought the fire all day Thursday and Thursday night, and well into Friday. The KKL-JNF teams that arrived with KKL-JNF fire trucks, many of which that were purchased with the help of its friends from around the world, took part in fighting the fire as they watched the painful sight of the forest that they care for all year long go up in flames.
On Friday morning, foresters from the north joined forces with the KKL-JNF teams in order to help extinguish the fire. A fire truck of the National Fire and Rescue Authority went up in flames during firefighting efforts, and the two firemen manning it managed to escape without injury. About 500 acres of national woodlands and planted forests burned until the fire was finally put out early Friday eve.
On Friday, KKL-JNF Mountain Region Director Gidi Bashan reported from the fire as it raged in Nahal Tzuba (Tzuba streambed): “The entire nahal has basically gone up in flames, including the indigenous vegetation and also a very developed pine forest. We have a lot of people here. Dozens of fire trucks of the National Fire and Rescue Authority and KKL-JNF are at the scene. The fire is not yet under control, but we hope that by Friday evening, we will have extinguished it, and if not, we’ll continue the next day.”
KKL-JNF Central Region Deputy Director Yehiel Cohen reported that “towards Friday evening, the fire was brought under control. On Saturday, KKL-JNF teams dealt with small recurrent outbreaks of the fire and created fire breaks around the area that had gone up in flames.”
The fire raged in three major focal points: Nahal Tzuba, Ein Tayasim and Mount Eitan in the Jerusalem Mountains. Hikers, including students and tourists from abroad, were evacuated from the area. A headquarters was set up that included KKL-JNF staff, and firefighting teams made huge efforts to bring the fire under control. KKL-JNF teams reported that the topography is characterized by steep slopes and inclines, making transportation very difficult. This, together with the strong winds that prevented firefighting aircraft from taking off, along with its fanning the flames, impeded firefighting efforts, and it took two full days to bring the fire under control.
A few months ago, an additional fire broke out in the overnight camping site on Mount Eitan. That fire consumed 13 acres and residents living close to the forest had to be evacuated until the fire was brought under control.
In coming days, KKL-JNF teams will be inspecting the burnt area in order to assess the damage and to begin necessary forest rehabilitation activities.