A fire that blighted approximately 2,000 dunams (200 hectares) of open space and
nature reserves – but caused no injuries – on the Golan Heights on Saturday
morning was under control by about 5 p.m., the Fire and Rescue Service
While the cause of the fire remains unknown, the conflagration
began alongside Road 888, near Moshav Had Nes and the Hexagon Pools nature
reserve, from which visitors were immediately evacuated, according to Yoram
Levy, spokesman for the Fire and Rescue Service.RELATED:
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The land damaged
included segments of nature reserve territory, confirmed Yair Elkayam, commander
of the Katzrin fire brigade, though the Nature and Parks Authority said this
damage was only a very small portion of the total damage.
“Because of the
winds, the fire spread very quickly in many directions – to the Hexagon Pools
nature reserve,” Levy told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday evening. “So the
people there had to be evacuated. Slowly, slowly we had to bring more and more
“We don’t take chances in this condition,” said Eitan
Nissim, deputy head of the Golan Region at the Nature and Parks Authority, who
said that ultimately, “most of the fire was in [nearby] mine fields.”
tried not to let the fire go down from the fields to the reserve,” Nissim
Crews from the Jewish National Fund/Keren Kayemet Leyisrael, the
fire Service’s Golan Heights and Galilee District, the Nature and Parks
Authority, as well as local army units assisted in the firefighting
Two of the new firefighting aircraft purchased following the
Carmel disaster were used, Levy said.
“The army is helping us to control
fires whenever they’re spreading seriously,” he added, praising the IDF’s quick
involvement to alleviate the situation.
The flames began spreading around
11 a.m. and reached their worst at 2 p.m. when they neared a military
Though Levy was certain the dry winds worsened the fire, he did not
yet know the cause of the incident.
“The fact that it started quite close
to the road [could indicate that] maybe it’s hand-made, maybe someone ignited
it, he said.
“We don’t have any facts to confirm for sure that this was
the reason, but the distance was close to the road.”
Even though the
flames did not consume significant portions of the nature reserve, Nissim said
the Nature and Parks Authority is just as concerned about the damage to lizards,
snakes, birds, insects and cattle feed for the area.
“We are not looking
at it just as if the reserve is burning or if it’s outside of the reserves,” he
explained. “It’s nature.”
The Road 888 area was not the only section of
Israel affected by fires on Saturday, spurred on by the dry heat and strong
winds around the country, Levy said.
“During this fire there was another
one not so far away in the Galilee, at Khananya junction,” he
“But the scale there was smaller. They also had to use one
airplane – a third one. They were busy, the people here.”
A third fire
also occurred in Ein Afek near Kiryat Bialik and Acre, which involved seven fire
trucks and one aircraft, while a fourth much smaller fire occurred near Hadera,
according to Levy.
“We use them quite a lot,” he said of the planes.
“They are mobile so we can transfer them from one place to
Having the new firefighting planes definitely increased the
efficiency in putting out the fires, but Levy said he couldn’t yet calculate
just how dramatic an improvement these aircraft had made.
former civilian agricultural planes used for the same purpose, which were only
capable of carrying one ton of water, these planes can carry up to three tons,
“I know that now we use [planes] much more than in the past
– it’s more convenient, more handy,” Levy said.
“We just have to call the
air force and immediately they arrive to the location where they are needed. In
the past, sometimes it was longer.”
The aircraft did still needed to make
several trips to water sources for refilling, but Levy said the new planes,
combined with the cohesive nature of the firefighting, enabled the workers to
extinguish the flames quickly.
“I think that it’s too early to analyze
because there have only been a few times that we’ve used [the planes],” he said.
“We can see more coordination between all the parties that are now dealing with
fires – with the JNF, the NPA and of course with the army with bases in the
area. They are willing to help more than before.”
Levy stressed the Fire
Service’s appreciation of the various organization’s unified contributions to
quenching the flames, which in the end hurt no people and damaged no private
“It’s just, unfortunately, the nature,” he said.