A week after a large brush-fire burned more than 10 hectares (25 acres) at the
entrance to Jerusalem, another fire broke out in the Emek Ha’arezim (Valley of
the Pines) in the same area on Wednesday morning. Eight fire crews battled the
fire, which burned more than 2 hectares.
Highway 9 was closed to traffic
for about an hour and heavy smoke blanketed the area. Police and firefighters
opened an investigation into the fire, though arson is suspected since a similar
fire broke out in the area less than a week ago.
On Tuesday, police
arrested two Jewish youth for allegedly setting a number of fires in open fields
around southeast Jerusalem in the past few months. During the investigation, one
of the youth admitted he set fires, and was inspired by the television show
HaBorer (The Arbitrator), a Sopranos-style crime drama series based on the
Israeli underworld. He also implicated the other suspect, who eventually
admitted to setting a fire on June 2 in Arnona, during which three cars were
burned and residents were evacuated from nearby buildings. On Wednesday, the
first suspect was released on conditions, and the second suspect was remanded in
the Jerusalem magistrate court until Friday.
More than a dozen people
have been arrested in connection with arson in wadis and open areas around
Jerusalem in the past two months.
Firefighters dealt with 1,058 incidents
of fires in open areas for six weeks in May and June.
determined that arson was responsible for at least 70 percent of those
incidents. On average there are 4,000 incidents a year of fires in open areas
and forests in the Jerusalem district.
Police and firefighters determined
that last week’s string of fires at the entrance of Jerusalem was at least
partially caused by arson.