Tel Dan nature reserve to reopen after fire

The Upper Galilee park will reopen to the public on Friday, a week after an arsonist's fire destroyed a third of it.

tel dan 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
tel dan 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Tel Dan nature reserve in the upper Galilee will reopen to the public on Friday, a week after an arsonist's fire destroyed a third of it. However, Nature and Parks Authority officials said Thursday that it would take 30 years for the reserve to fully recover from the effects of what is believed to have been arson. The Authority team has worked feverishly to create alternate trails which bypass the damage. Several of the wooden bridges and a wooden trail for wheelchairs were destroyed in the blaze, which burned for at least 12 hours. The fact that the lock on the back gate was jammed shut and the fire seems to have started within the reserve itself led firefighters to suspect arson. Police say they are waiting for firefighters to complete their investigation of the blaze. "We do not know a thing a this point. It is up to the firefighters to conclude that arson was involved. If this is what their report tells us, we will launch a criminal investigation," a Galilee Police spokesman said. Tel Dan is one of Israel's most popular tourist attractions, and is an important source of water. It is also an important archeological site. In addition to the infrastructure damage, several large trees and vegetation were burned. The endangered orange salamander, whose most stable community in the country considers the reserve home, was also affected by the fire, officials said. "The large amounts of flowing water in the reserve and the humid infrastructure will speed up the rehabilitation process," Eitan Nissim, the reserve's manager said, "According to the experts' estimations, it will take five years for the vegetation to grow back and up to 30 years for full rehabilitation of the big trees. However, in the next few weeks, the stalks will begin to cover the ground that was burned, because the stalks can grow up to half a meter a week." "I hope that whoever visits will get to see the reserve recovering and through seeing that will learn about fire damage. If, as a result, more future fires are prevented then that will at least be one bright spot in this whole sad story," he added.