As temperature rises, firefighters battle blazes

Emergency services put on high alert ahead of Lag B'Omer; two suffer burns from fire in Ben Shemen forest.

Fire in Modi'in 370 (photo credit: Daniel Pearlman)
Fire in Modi'in 370
(photo credit: Daniel Pearlman)
A massive fire continued to rage Saturday night in Rosh Ha’ayin, on a day that saw firefighters responding to blazes across Israel.
The flames started at a car parts warehouse in the Ofek Industrial Park, and by Saturday evening, 20 crews from across the Sharon region were battling the blaze, which firefighters said could result in a partial collapse of the building.
The Rosh Ha’ayin fire was the most severe of several major fires that broke out on Saturday, as temperatures climbed into the high 30s across the country, and strong winds bedeviled firefighters.
Two tourists were lightly injured Saturday afternoon and evacuated to Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin after they suffered burns in a fire at the Ben- Shemen Forest near Lod.
Firefighters believe that blaze was caused after park visitors used a barbecue grill in an area where they are forbidden.
In the North, four fire teams and two firefighting planes were deployed to put out a fire outside Yavne’el, while four planes were sent to fight a blaze outside Almagor, during which firefighters evacuated six homes in the moshav.
In the South, three fire teams from Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Kiryat Malachi managed to get control of a fire at the Ra’am industrial area. Also in the South, three people were treated for smoke inhalation at Kibbutz Beit Nir.
The string of wildfires happened as Israelis began celebrating Lag Ba’omer, the holiday traditionally marked by bonfires in public places.
The holiday is the busiest day of the year for the fire services, and with the especially warm weather over the weekend, on Saturday morning the national Fire and Rescue Services called on the public to practice extra caution, and for parents to supervise their children while holding their bonfires.
Zaki Heller, of the Magen David Adom rescue services, said they will be on their highest level of readiness during the holiday, as did Northern District police who will be stationed at the traditional Lag Ba’omer pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of Orthodox Jews on Mount Meron, near Safed.
Also on Saturday morning, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch spoke with the heads of the National Fire Authority and had them raise their level of preparedness to the highest possible standing in regard to the strong winds and high temperatures, and issued a call for the public to practice extra caution.