State Comptroller: Carmel Fire report 'very severe'

1st draft of report into fire to be released in a week; probe has uncovered negligence on part of police, prison service, gov't ministries.

Deer surveys damage from Carmel fire 521 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Deer surveys damage from Carmel fire 521
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
In a tour on Thursday to Usfiya and other areas affected by December’s deadly Mount Carmel Fire, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss told reporters that the report his office is preparing on the tragedy would be “very severe.”
Forty-four people died in the fire, the deadliest in the state’s history. Among the victims were 37 Prisons Service cadets and their commanding officers, who died when their bus was engulfed by flames.
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The fire also caused widespread damage, totalling millions of shekels, to land and property. An estimated 1.5 million trees were destroyed.
A week ago, Lindenstrauss had warned members of the Knesset State Control Committee that the in-depth report his office prepared uncovered “very serious evidence of negligence” and would include “grave findings.”
“All of our investigations have been in great depth, and have examined every single aspect of what took place in order to get to the truth of the matter,” Lindenstrauss told the committee.
A team of 30 auditors has investigated all of the many organizations involved in firefighting, including the police, the Prisons Service, the Fire Service and the IDF Home Front Command.
The auditors have also interviewed almost all the families of persons who died in the fire, whom Lindenstrauss noted had been extremely cooperative.
Senior government figures, including Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Interior Minister Eli Yishai, were also interviewed by the State Comptroller’s Office.
Yishai faced sharp criticism and calls to resign after the tragedy.
According to Ma’ariv, leaked parts of the first draft of the report say there was “unbelievable criminal negligence” and government failures with regard to firefighting capabilities.
In about a week, the first draft of the report is to be sent to the investigated organizations for comment. The final report will be published at least a month later.