Israel hit by wildfires, heatstroke amid extreme heatwave

Residents of an immigrant absorption center in Beersheba are living through the heatwave without air conditioning

Fire in Rahat, May 20, 2020 (photo credit: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICE)
Fire in Rahat, May 20, 2020
The extreme heatwave that has affected Israel since Sunday, continued on Wednesday, with a number of wildfires breaking out in southern Israel and multiple reports of heatstroke.
Temperatures over 104F (40C) were reported throughout most of the country.
Mekorot, Israel’s water company, reported water consumption in the country increased by 32% due to the heatwave on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday both in the agriculture sector and in drinking water.
From Tuesday at noon to Wednesday at noon Israelis used 6.1 million cubic meters of water (6,100,000,000 liters).
In addition, the sea-level of the Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) began to go down due to more water being taken out to meet the high demands and increased evaporation amid the heatwave.
On Wednesday morning, the water level was half a centimeter lower than on Tuesday.
The all-time record for Israeli electric power usage was broken on Wednesday at noon, as Israelis used 13,854 megawatts of electricity, The Jerusalem Post's sister publication, Maariv, reported. The previous record occurred on Tuesday when Israelis used 13,809 megawatts of electricity.
A 65-year-old man from Yeroham and an 87-year-old man were brought to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba in serious condition with symptoms of heatstroke, according to Ynet. A 94-year-old from Beersheba was brought to the same hospital in moderate condition.
Florencia Topor, an oleh (immigrant) from Argentina, arrived to Israel five months ago and is living through the extreme temperatures in the Yaelim Absorption  Center in Beersheba in an apartment without air conditioning.
Despite promises by the Jewish Agency, she and other residents of the center are still waiting for air conditioners that were promised to them on Tuesday.
Topor explained to Ynet that the residents, including a woman who's 8 months pregnant, go to the mall to stay cool. A social worker told Topor that air conditioners would be arranged "in the future."
"We don't have much we can do. We drink a lot of water. There are air conditioners in the bunker but it's closed because of the coronavirus. They open it during the day for a limited amount of time, but at night we just can't sleep," said Topor.
Topor's daughter can't sleep because of the heat and uses a wet towel to try and stay cool. The refrigerator in their apartment also doesn't work well so there's also not much cold water.
The Jewish Agency told Ynet on Tuesday that the CEO of the Agency had directed the ordering of portable air conditioners within a number of hours. As of Tuesday afternoon, the air conditioners had not arrived. Fans are also being distributed and all air conditioners in activity rooms and public areas will be on 24 hours a day. The Agency is working to improve electrical and air conditioning infrastructure at the center as well.
Houses were evacuated near Rahat and Route 254 was closed after a wildfire broke out in the area. Five crews from Israel Fire and Rescue services are fighting the flames at the scene. The fire threatened shacks and storage buildings, but was brought under control.
A wildfire broke out near Nir Am in southern Israel after an electric pole shorted. The fire is under control.
A wildfire broke near the old train station in Rosh HaAyin. Train traffic in the area was halted and Route 6 was blocked to traffic near Kasem Junction, according to Channel 12.