Fire in Gamla 311.
(photo credit: Osnat Eitan)
Firefighters are continuing an investigation into several large blazes
which broke out in the Bet Shemesh area on Tuesday, and are leaning
towards the theory that they were the work of an arsonist. Tuesday’s
fires, which burned down around 30,000 trees and damaged around 3,000
dunams, were the worst fire-related incident in the country since the
Second Lebanon War.
“The general direction of our investigation is focusing on arson,” a
Bet Shemesh firefighters spokesman told The Jerusalem Post
on Wednesday. “Our people are still out on the ground. But we
don’t have conclusive findings yet. We expect to have that on Thursday
morning,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman added that the investigation had been hampered by an
additional fire which broke out on Wednesday. A bus on Route 6 caught
fire in the Best Shemesh area, setting fire to a field. Fire crews and
a plane were dispatched to the scene to put out the blaze. No injuries
or damages were reported.
4 firefighters hurt in major blazes
Firefighters stop Beit Shemesh blaze
Earlier on Wednesday, Cmdr. (ret.). Dan Ronen, former head of the
police northern district, told the Post
forensics officers would be playing a vital role in the investigation
should firefighters conclude that foul play was involved.
“Firefighters only take part in the initial investigation to locate the
source of the fire. When arson is suspected, police forensic officers
are called to the scene, and they bring back samples to a special arson
lab for analysis,” Ronen explained.
In other cases, police may get involved if intelligence emerges
suggesting arsonists were involved, Ronen said. Addressing the Bet
Shemesh blaze, Ronen said its size meant that “arson cannot be ruled
out,” but added that many large fires were caused by negligent campers.