Three weeks after the blaze; revisiting Muhraka Monastery

Holy Christian site on Carmel mountain remains unharmed by devastating flames that scorched the entire area.

By NICOLE JANSEZIAN, TRAVELUJAH
December 22, 2010 15:30
2 minute read.
Carmel fire rages in northern Israel

Carmel Fire Night 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

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Three weeks after the largest fire in Israel's history raged across the Carmel forest - destroying 5 million trees - tourists begin to return. Fortunately, the majority of the region's historical sites remained untouched by this national disaster.

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Father John of Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery in Haifa said that the church there that surrounds Elijah’s cave and the Muhraka, the spot where Elijah challenged and defeated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18), were unaffected by the devastating fire that began on Thursday.

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 “As far as we know there was not a great deal of damage done. Everyone seems to be okay,” he told Travelujah. “We are on the protected side.”

He said that a fire started at the Muhraka, home to a monastery, but that it was extinguished in minutes. Meanwhile, the fire raged just south of Daliat al-Carmel, the town where the Mukraka is located. Stella Maris is in the city Haifa, Israel's third largest city, a safe distance from the flames.

The sites have been protected, but access has been limited while firefighters combat the blaze. The roads surrounding Muhraka have been closed by authorities and nearby villages evacuated until the fire is under control. Some sites haven’t escaped the fury of the fire.

Much of the Bar-Hai nature preserve has been consumed by the flames and the artists’ village of Ein Hod.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked all the nations sending help.

“We’ve helped other countries in the past, now they're helping us," he said.

Help has arrived from Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Spain, Azerbaijan, Romania, Russia, Cyprus, France and Britain. Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have also offered assistance. The United States also offered aid. Israel is known for sending its own rescue personnel to other countries during national disaster, most recently to earthquake victims in countries including Haiti and Turkey.

 
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