Fire consume fields near Jerusalem, May 23.
(photo credit: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)
The residents of Moshav Mevo Modiin have evacuated their homes after a massive fire caused by Thursday’s heat wave engulfed the area. At least 16 private homes in the area are in flames, according to police.
Yonina Libin, whose mother lives in Modiin, was visiting the community when the fire began encroaching on the living area from the surrounding forest.
“There was definitely a lot of fire,” Libin said of the flames. “People for sure lost homes and everything they have.”
She said that when the fire looked like it was getting close, “as far as we are aware, all of the residents evacuated safely.”
She escaped with her mother and her two daughters, who were in Mevo Modiin with their grandmother because of the Lag B’Omer holiday.
“It is a vacation day, so families were home with their kids,” she explained.
The majority of families left for the nearby Modiin shopping center and others are taking refuge in friends’ homes.
Dozens of firefighters are working to put out the flames, which spread to the area communities of Adam, Shilat and Neot Kedumim. Reports indicate that the wind is strong, which is making it more difficult to contain the fire. At least eight aircraft-borne fire extinguishing systems are assisting as well.
Arson has not been ruled out, according to the Police.
“We are looking at the cause of the fires in Mevo Modiin and the Jerusalem area,” said Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, the Israel Police national spokesman to the foreign media. “We have to locate where they were started from. But the order is like this: take control of the fires, then investigate what caused them gain an understanding of whether this was intentional or not.”
Mevo Modiin is also known as the Carlebach moshav, named for the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the hippie rabbi who in 1968 established the House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco, the first Jewish commune.
Carlebach traveled to Germany in the 1960s to teach people whose parents had murdered scores of Jewish people that the time for peace and forgiveness had come. Ultimately, he established the Israeli moshav.
Fires have been raging throughout Israel on Thursday.
Toward evening, the country was put on red alert and firefighters fully mobilized. There have been requests for volunteer firefighters and requests for assistance from neighboring countries for firefighting planes as well.
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