Several teenagers were taken in for questioning in connection with a fire near
the capital’s southwestern edge that destroyed 1,000 dunams (100 hectares) of
forest, forced the partial evacuation of the moshavim of Ora, Aminadav and Even
Sapir, and came close to doing the same for Hadassah University Hospital in Ein
Kerem, Jerusalem police announced on Sunday night.
According to a police
spokesman, students from a haredi school in the Jerusalem area were hiking near
Ein Hamdak, inside the Aminadav Forest. Some of the students were apparently
playing with fire and started the blaze, which got out of control. The group
then allegedly left the scene and continued toward Jerusalem before being found
by detectives from the Moriya District.
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A 15-year-old was held for
questioning, and police said they were planning to make more arrests.
blaze, which was centered just southwest of Hadassah University Hospital,
reached dangerously close to the medical center before it was brought under
Twenty-three vehicles in Hadassah’s parking lot were damaged by
the fire, which was subdued near the hospital’s entrance only after two airborne
firefighting units entered the scene.
As the flames crept closer to the
hospital – at one point reaching its perimeter fence – roads leading to the
medical center were shut down and a evacuation of the entire facility was
considered. In the end, firefighters were able to control the blaze, at least in
the hospital’s direction.
On the other side of the valley, however, near
the three moshavim, the flames continued to burn out of control.
and firefighters were called in to battle the flames and evacuate some of the
residents after the blaze drew closer and authorities told locals to leave. Four
people were treated for smoke inhalation before firefighters were able to
control the flames, which turned the green hills between Hadassah Ein Kerem and
the moshavim a charred and smoky black.
“According to the information we
now have, there are an estimated 1,000 dunams of planted-forest land in the
Aminadav Forest that have been destroyed,” a spokeswoman from the Jewish
National Fund told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday evening.
started at around 1:30 in the afternoon, near Ein Hamdak, inside the
Forest,” she said.
“Around 3:30 p.m., however, another fire started in an
area called Khirbet Tze’adim, which is also in the Aminadav Forest. So
point, there were two large fires burning out of control, which together
“Around 100 JNF personnel, along with nine JNF
firefighter teams, arrived at the scene and assisted the local
were in the field.
By 6 p.m., the flames had been brought under control
throughout the entire area, and residents of the communities that were
partially evacuated began returning
to their homes,” she said.
The spokeswoman added that while this blaze
had caused a great deal of damage, one that erupted on the Golan Heights
weeks ago claimed nearly 1,800 dunams of forest. At the time, the JNF
would take about 50 years for that forest to recover.
separate fire on Sunday left 18-month-old twins in serious condition
inhalation. The infants were inside an apartment on Shmuel Hanavi Street
Jerusalem’s Beit Yisrael neighborhood when the blaze broke out, also
three-year-old lightly injured.
Firefighters arrived at around 2:30 p.m.
and evacuated the children from the burning apartment.
According to a
Jerusalem police spokesman, the twins were taken to the Shaare Tzedek
Center, and the cause of the fire was being investigated.