'Thousands of wild animals presumed dead in Carmel fire'

Nature, Parks Authority says most species unlikely to return for couple of years; organization has no way to officially determine losses.

December 8, 2010 03:40
1 minute read.
A firefighter near Yemin Orde, Sunday

Firefighter carmel 311 ap. (photo credit: Associated Press)

Although the Nature and Parks Authority was mostly focused on putting out the flames that consumed half of the Carmel Forest Reserve over the weekend, it estimates that thousands of wild animals perished in the quickly moving fire.

“We believe many mammals were caught by the flames and thousands of the smaller animals had no way to outrun the flames,” NPA Spokesman Omri Gal told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

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There were no observation points set up because nearly the entire NPA workforce was fighting the fires, so the organization has no way to officially determine the losses.

Deer, foxes, wild pigs, hedgehogs and other animals – even down to the snails – were probably wiped out in great numbers by the fire, Gal said.

There were times where the flames moved several hundred meters per second and rose 30 to 40 meters into the air most likely trapping a large number.

Although some most likely escaped, “they probably won’t return for at least a year or two. Right now, there’s no food for them there, so there’s no reason for them to return,” he said.

Regarding tree replanting, most of the 40,000-50,000 dunam area that burned was natural forest. About 10,000 dunams had been planted by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael. Although KKL will wait to see what needs to be replanted, if any replanting is required it will be a variety of local species of trees rather than foreign ones, KKL has said.

An estimated five million trees were consumed in the four-day fire that claimed the lives of 43 people.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Ministry said Tuesday that it had already begun taking measures to protect residents from asbestos which might have crumbled to pieces because of the fire. On Monday, ministry inspectors toured Kibbutz Beit Oren and discovered nine houses with varying damage to their asbestos roofs. A ministry-hired contractor was already on the scene by Tuesday to secure the sites and put up warning signs.

Asbestos that crumbles into small pieces becomes carcinogenic and a public health threat.

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