Jerusalem blaze caused by arson, negligence

Two arrested for starting fire at Oferit army base which burns more than 100 dunams.

Rescue worker looks at Jerusalem fire 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rescue worker looks at Jerusalem fire 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The massive fire that raced through the wadi at the entrance to Jerusalem, burning more than 100 dunams, was the result of both arson and negligence, police announced on Thursday.
The fire that raged next to Ma’aleh Hahamisha was caused by arson, while the fire in the wadi next to Mevaseret Zion was the result of negligence such as a dropped cigarette butt or trash burning.
Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the police do not have any suspects yet in the arson but they are investigating a number of people who have been involved with arson.
Also on Thursday, two Arab teenagers from Isawiya were arrested in connection with a fire at the Oferit Army base next to the east Jerusalem neighborhood.
Police suspect the two boys, aged 17 and 15, set a number of fires in the wadi and open areas in between their neighborhood and the Hebrew University’s Mount Scopus campus.
One of the teenagers admitted to setting the fire at Oferit and implicated his friend.
A dozen soldiers suffered from smoke inhalation during the fire that broke out on June 17 at the base. Police believe the two youths threw firecrackers at the base with the intention of starting fires. The suspects were remanded at the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Thursday and their detention was extended until Sunday as the investigation continues.
Jerusalem firefighters have dealt with a large wave of arson in the last few months.
Not counting this week, there have been 1,058 incidents of fires in open areas in the past six weeks.
Firefighters have determined that arson was responsible for at least 70 percent of those incidents. On average there are 4,000 incidents a year of fires in open areas and forests in the Jerusalem district.
Nine people, both Jews and Arabs, have been arrested in connection with setting fires in open areas in the past month.