Carmel fire 311.
(photo credit: Israel Police)
As fires raged in the Carmel mountains on Thursday, 40 prison wardens en route to the Damon
Prison burned to death in a bus caught up in the blaze .
The wardens were meant to assist in evacuating some 500
prisoners from the facility, situated near
Kibbutz Beit Oren. Their vehicle was engulfed in fast moving
flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to
Kibbutz Bet Oren.
spokesman said the blaze had traveled 1500 meters in less than three
minutes, adding, "the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were
burned alive. It was a horrific scene."
The spokesman added that
the fire was very far from the road on which the bus was traveling when
it first set off towards the prison, but had spread far faster than
The IDF Home Front Command established a
command center near the scene of the blaze and was coordinating relief
efforts together with the Northern District Police.
assisting in evacuating neighborhoods in Tirat Hacarmel after the fire
began to surround the eastern part of the city. Unmanned aerial vehicles
(UAVs) were also diverted to the scene of the fire to assist fire
fighters in tracking its direction.
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Kibbutz Bet Oren was reported to have been largely destroyed by the flames, after it was evacuated.
The head of the Haifa Police, Dep.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer, was critically
injured in the fire and she was evacuated to the Rambam Medical
Center and was being treated for severe burns.
Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shimon Romach added that the firefighting operation would be limited to ground forces after sunset, since fire planes cannot be used at night. "I don't think we will get control of this tonight," he added.
of dunams have gone up in flames in the Carmel forest between Haifa
University and Ussafiya, and it remains unclear how the incident will
end at this stage.
Police described the fire as a "major
disaster. Many of the dead are from the security forces, and include
civilians. The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many
Police have asked the public to stay clear of the whole area.
Police sealed off Route 4 between Beit Oren and Haifa over fears that
fires could spread to the Atlit-Tirat Hacarmel area. Police have
instructed drivers to use Routes 2 or 6 instead and to stay away from
The area in question contains heavy brush that burns easily,
to firefighters. This fact coupled with strong winds has prompted the
evacuations and the presence of multiple fire crews brought in to help
with the blaze from various districts in the country.
Additional number for information for affected families: 08 977-5717