Fewer bonfires meant a less-polluting Lag Ba’Omer

This Lag Ba’Omer polluted the air less than in previous years.

May 4, 2018 00:24
2 minute read.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys dance around a bonfire as they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'Ome

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish boys dance around a bonfire as they celebrate the Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'Omer in the city of Ashdod, Israel May 13, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Despite public pleas not to hold Lag Ba’Omer bonfires on Wednesday night, there were still plenty of them but fewer and smaller than usual, causing a significant drop in air pollution.

In addition, medics and paramedics had to treat “only” 211 people on Mount Meron where hundreds of thousands congregated, for burns, dehydration, contusions, falls from heights, snake bites and scorpion stings, fainting, lacerations, and other medical conditions.

The Environmental Quality Ministry reported on Thursday that because so many people had responded to calls to refrain from the bonfires, there was less particulate matter and less of a smoky smell in most areas.

Air quality measurements conducted by the National Air Monitoring Unit at the Environmental Protection Ministry indicated higher concentrations of particulate matter were recorded in most of the locations compared to a clear day, but this Lag Ba’Omer polluted the air less than in previous years. Peak concentrations were recorded between 10 p.m. on Wednesday and 5 a.m. on Thursday.

As of 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, United Hatzalah first responders had treated 323 people in Meron during Lag Ba’Omer celebrations.

“Our volunteers in the field have been proving their dedication year in and year out,” said United Hatzalah president and founder Eli Beer. “Our 600 volunteers from across the country patrolled the entire town of Meron and the compound where celebrations were held and provided the fastest medical response in the area.”

Meanwhile, in London’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Stamford Hill, at least 30 people were injured after a bonfire at a Lag Ba’Omer celebration exploded.

London’s Hatzola tweeted a video of the incident, which showed a large group of people singing and praying as the explosion occurred. Several people in the group were attempting to light a large pile of flammable material and as they did so, it blew up causing a massive fireball.

People were seen running away and shouting at the scene as ambulances, medics and a firetruck rushed through the street.

Initial reports suggested that someone had thrown a smartphone on the impending blaze as it was being lit, however, Yeshiva World News reported that explosion was caused by excess fuel and not the smartphone – although witnesses said that multiple smartphones placed inside the pile to be burned.

Of the 30 people injured, approximately 10 were taken to hospital, with most sustaining facial burns.

In a statement London Police said the injuries caused by the blast were minor. “No criminal allegations [were] reported” and “there were no serious injuries,” it said.

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