Wildfires broke out in Haifa, Israel that forced 60,000 people out of their homes Thursday. Dry conditions coupled with strong winds spurred on the fires — some of which were due to arson — that have raged across the country this week.
The Times of Israel reported:
Residents of a total of 11 neighborhoods in the city were told to leave their homes, as fires in at least five locations consumed homes and businesses. By late afternoon, more than 100 people in the Haifa area had been treated for fire-related injuries, mostly smoke inhalation.
Israel Police chief Roni Alsheich said some of the fires were set by arsonists, “presumably with nationalist motives,” but most were not. He said some suspects were in custody. Top Arab MK Ayman Odeh called the arsonists “enemies of us all.”
Greece, Russia, Cyprus and Turkey were among the nations that sent firefighting planes and other equipment to help fight the fires.
Firefighters have been struggling since Tuesday to keep pace with a spate of brush fires that have popped up around the country, several of which have damaged homes and put people in the hospital for smoke inhalation.
The dangerous situation in Haifa can be seen below in a video from the Times of Israel titled, “Romema neighborhood in Haifa burns”:
Haifa fire service spokesman Uri Chibutro told Channel 2 news about the seriousness of the situation: “We’re in a state of war.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at a press conference on Thursday about the fires blazing across the country: “Every fire caused by arson, or incitement to commit arson, is terrorism for all intents and purposes, and we will bring them to justice.”
Netanyahu also discussed the need for international aid:
Firefighting planes from Israel and around the world are the critical component (in fighting the fires). That’s why we have built the fire air squadron, and it is doing an excellent job. Countries are joining hands (but) we need more help from abroad. Russia, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Croatia and Turkey have already answered the call. By midnight two additional planes Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent will be here.
The Jerusalem Post reported:
The fires that have burned across Israel since Tuesday continue to rage, with new areas threatened by flames as other blazes have come under control. Israel Police estimate that over 200 have been confirmed since Tuesday.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Israel Police announced Thursday afternoon that they have detained a number of suspects on suspicion of arson.
God bless the Israelis for their safety and I pray that the fires are swiftly controlled. I also pray that those responsible be brought to justice.
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