Jerusalem fire may have been result of arson, fire officials fear
The fire, which was contained shortly before 8 p.m., was originally believed to have been started due to negligence by a local farmer, according to a Fire and Rescue Services official.
By DANIEL K. EISENBUD, JPOST.COM STAFF, SHARON UDASINUpdated: AUGUST 3, 2015 17:12A fire that rampaged throughout the Jerusalem area Sunday morning forcing over 700 residents to evacuate the area may have been the result of arson, sources in the Jerusalem Fire Department investigative unit said Monday.Evidence collected at the epicenter of Sunday's fire indicates that a deliberate arson attack may have been the cause of the blaze, though the investigation remains open and no conclusions have been made, the investigative unit added.The inferno, which was contained shortly before 8 p.m., was originally believed to have been started due to negligence by a local farmer, according to a Fire and Rescue Services official.More than 700 residents of Moshav Even Sapir and the Ein Kerem neighborhood near Hadassah University Medical Center in southwest Jerusalem were forced to evacuate their homes Sunday as 50 firefighting teams and eight airplanes worked to control a blaze that threatened the area.Several homes, at least two buildings and a large chicken coop in Even Sapir were damaged by the blaze, though the hospital was never in imminent danger, an official said. At least three firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation, he added.Even Sapir resident Itsik Sasson described a chaotic scene as firefighters went door-to-door to evacuate each house in the small community as the blaze drew closer.“The fire started climbing from the wadi up toward the neighborhood,” said Sasson. “According to what I know now, one house is on fire and a chicken coop was damaged. The fire has entered the community and the police are evacuating residents.”AdvertisementSasson continued, “I haven’t seen much because they won’t let me too close to the area, but there is a real frenzy, a big mess - loads of police.”Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the entire moshav was evacuated and cordoned off, and police temporarily closed down Routes 395 and 386 leading to the community, as well as the eastbound lanes of Route 1 toward Jerusalem. Drivers were instructed to use Route 443 as an alternate route to travel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv until the blaze was contained.