Fire in Jerusalem's Givat Shaul neighborhood.
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Amid the heatwave striking Israel on Monday, a fire in Jerusalem’s Givat Shaul neighborhood briefly closed down a section of Highway 1 and forced the evacuation of an area synagogue.
The fire did not endanger homes, but residents were instructed to close their windows to avoid smoke inhalation.
The fire began in the wholesalers’ market in Givat Shaul and quickly spread to a nearby wooded area.
The Israel Meteorological Service said that temperatures over the past two days had reached 45 to 46 degrees in the Jordan Valley and the southern Arava. Despite the scorching temperatures, the IMS said few records had been broken, except for in Eilat, where temperatures reached 46 degrees; the previous high there for the month of May was 45.2 degrees recorded in 1980.
The current heat wave is notable for its length so early in the year; the last several-day period of high heat in May was in 2002.
The IMS predicted that temperatures would cool down on Tuesday but remain unseasonably warm, and would cool further on Wednesday.
According to Channel 2, Monday’s fire in Jerusalem burned part of the asbestos roof at the wholesalers market, leading to fears that harmful materials might have been spread in the area. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat arrived at the scene wearing a medical mask and spoke to firefighters.
The blaze was one of several battled by firefighters throughout the country on Monday.
Five crews managed to gain control of a fire in the capital’s Ramot neighborhood. Earlier in the day, a large fire threatened Kfar Uriah in the Beit Shemesh area, but firefighters there managed to gain control of the blaze after it had burned through some 50 hectares (about 120 acres).
In the North, firefighters fought two fires simultaneously.
One, near the Zichron Ya’acov Junction on Route 2, led to a temporary closure of sections of the road.
There were no reports of injuries in Monday’s fires.