Yaniv, Gil, and Idan hadn’t seen their homes on Kibbutz Beit Oren since
Thursday, when they fled at a moment’s notice as the flames of the Carmel fire
closed in on them.
Hoping for the best, they didn’t bother grabbing
anything to take with them.
“We thought we’d be back the next day; we
didn’t think we’d come back to this,” said Idan, 27, standing outside the
hollowed shell of his boyhood home in the kibbutz’s scorched southern part on
Friday. Soldiers and police had barricaded the only entrances to the road
leading to the kibbutz, but the three friends begged and pleaded to be allowed
in to see their homes, hoping to find something to take with them.
were among 17,000 people evacuated from the area affected by the
Wearing the same clothes as the night before, Idan and his
friends climbed the stairs into Idan’s building, using their cell phones as
torches in the pitchblack night.
Perched on a hilltop above Mount Carmel,
the houses afforded a sweeping view of the neighboring hillsides and the
constellation of embers and small fires twinkling in the night sky. In the
distance, convoys of fire trucks could be seen making their way up and down the
hills beset by flames. All around, the air was choked with the stench of ash and
Much of the kibbutz appeared to have been spared by the
flames – save for the southern area, which was scorched and covered in soot and
“This was my room, all my clothes were right here, my playstation
over there,” Idan added, pointing at a mound of soot and ash in the
The concrete ceiling of the two-story building had collapsed,
warped and twisted by the flames that tore through Thursday.
shouldn’t be in here, man, it’s an 80-year-old building, it could fall any
second,” Gil said, and the three scrambled down the stairs into the
On the street outside, still covered in ash, Yaniv, 25, stood
outside the burned shell of his Subaru, abandoned to the flames.
really loved this car,” Yaniv said, and kicked the crumpled driver’s-side door.“
“On Thursday, we saw the flames coming toward the kibbutz, but we didn’t leave
right away. We ran over to the BSide, the kibbutz pub, to see if anyone was over
there and saw a few of our friends on the rooftop with a hose trying to put out
the flames on the ground,” Yaniv said, adding that from the rooftop they could
hear the screams for help coming from the Prisons Service officers trapped in a
burning bus on the way to evacuate detainees at Damon prison.
arrived in time, and 40 officers burned to death in the flames.
soon we saw that the flames were getting closer and we ran,” Yaniv added
describing how he and Gil dashed through the forest from the kibbutz to Moshav
Megadim, near Atlit. Idan had managed to flee earlier before the road was closed
“The roads were blocked by the fire, so we fled through the woods.
We grew up in these woods, we know the way down. So we just ran, the whole time
looking over our shoulders for the fire,” Yaniv said.
In the scramble
they lost track of Bruno, a black-andwhite mutt Yaniv had found by the side of
the road a week earlier and adopted. When the three friends pulled into the
abandoned kibbutz on Friday, they were tailed by Bruno, who came out of the
darkness running alongside their car.
The three friends appeared to be in
good spirits, even though they were without a change of clothes and
couch-surfing with friends and relatives in Haifa.
They hoped to be able
to salvage something from their homes, but so far were out of
“We’ll go check at my parents’ house, it’s up in the northern
neighborhood, the fire didn’t really make it there,” Idan said, and the three
childhood friends from Kibbutz Beit Oren headed off into the darkness, trailed
by Bruno leaving paw-prints in the ash.