Aharonovitch: Still no control of blaze Carmel blaze

Police sources evacuate all residences in neighborhoods of Giora, Rehovot Alon, Habarush; Laniado; over 12,000 residents evacuated.

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
December 2, 2010 19:03
2 minute read.
Fire rages in the Carmel, Thursday

Carmel fire 311. (photo credit: Israel Police)

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Thursday that the police still do not have control of the blaze that was raging near Tirat Hacarmel.

Police sources said they had evacuated all residences in the neighborhoods of Giora, Rehovot Alon, Habarush and Laniado.

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Over 12,000 residents in the area had been evacuated.



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Aharonovitch said that there are at least three people still missing as rescue efforts continue in the Carmel region where a huge fire was raging.



Aharonovitch said "we are talking about a tragedy with many injuries."

He confirmed that all relevant parties have been informed and were working towards helping the rescue efforts.

The huge brush-fire which claimed 40 lives in the Carmel area on will likely not be controlled by Thursday evening, according to an assessment by Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shimon Romach.

The official said that the firefighting operation would be limited to ground forces after sunset, since fire planes cannot be used at night. "I don't think we will get control of this tonight," he said.

The majority of the 40 people burned to death in a bus caught up in the Carmel forest fires were prison wardens en route to the Damon Prison. The wardens were meant to assist in the evacuation of some 500 prisoners from the facility, situated near Kibbutz Beit Oren, when their vehicle became engulfed in fast moving flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to Kibbutz Bet Oren.

A firefighter spokesman said the blaze had traveled 1500 meters in less than three minutes, adding, "the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene."

Hezi Levi, a senior firefighter, said Thursday that battling the blaze is like "fighting against the worst enemy in the world," Channel 10 reported.

Rescue teams were working to evacuate seven houses in the area which had caught fire, Levi explained.

Levi said that "even with all the help in the world it will be very difficult to stop the fire."

Police described the incident as a "major disaster. Many of the dead are from the security forces, and include civilians. The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many areas."

Israel Prisons Service Head Lt.-Gen. Benny Kaniak said in a statement, "We bow our heads in sorrow over the loss of life and injury of the best of its sons and daughters, who were sent on an operational mission to save lives, and found themselves in a disaster the likes of which we in the Prisons Service and the State of Israel have not known.

Our hearts are with the families of those killed and injured. We will do everything to support and assist during these difficult moments."


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