An enormous fire ripped through the landmark IKEA furniture store in Netanya
early on Saturday, completely destroying the building but causing no
The Fire and Rescue Service mobilized nearly 40 vehicles and
70 firefighters to the blaze.
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There was no one in the building at the
Heavy black smoke rose from the store into the sky on Saturday
morning before fire crews established control over the fire. Eyewitnesses
described the scene above the building as a mushroom cloud resembling an atomic
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire, though one
possibility being explored by fire investigators is an electrical fault that may
have occurred near the store’s roof.
Police have not ruled out arson by
IKEA representatives said it would take several months
to repair the store.
“An investigation is under way to determine the
cause of the fire,” IKEA Israel chairman Ron Hadassi told Israel
“We’ll have to rebuild the store, and that will take between six
months and a year.
“This has been a difficult day, but thankfully no one
was hurt. We have no idea if this was arson. That’s for the police to
The outlet would continue to operate out of its Rishon Lezion
branch, and customers could return items to that location, IKEA representatives
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonvitch and IKEA Israel’s CEO
Shlomo Gabbay arrived to inspect the damage, estimated to be NIS 350
Gabbay ensured employees of the store that they would be “taken
care of” while it was being rebuilt.
IKEA Israel, a franchise of the
Swedish-based conglomerate, is a private company controlled by Matthew Bronfman.
It has some 400 employees in the Netanya store, which was opened 10 years
The addition of the Rishon branch last year boosted the number of
visitors to IKEA in 2010 to 3.5 million. There are plans to open a third store
IKEA international has 320 stores in 38 countries. Its sales
last year totalled 23.8 billion euros, with its Israel branches reporting a
turnover of NIS 678 million.
Meanwhile, four vehicles in Netanya were set
ablaze in arson attacks across the city overnight. One of the vehicles belonged
to the Prison Service.
Police said two suspects were being sought in
connection with the incidents.