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12,300 acres destroyed
Photo: Shlomi Nissim
Supertanker in action
Mount Carmel: Firefighters 'optimistic'
Blaze in north continues to rage for fourth day, mainly in Nir Etzion, Mount Shokef area; 30 firefighting aircraft, including American Supertanker, utilized in extinguishing efforts. Official: We'll contain fire soon

Firefighting aircraft resumed their activity Sunday morning and are dumping water and flame retardant chemicals on the Carmel hills. During the night firefighters partially contained the blaze near the Hai Bar animal and nature reserve and at a garbage site in the Druze village of Usfiya.

 

The wildfire sweeping through the Carmel mountain range has been raging for nearly 70 hours and has claimed the lives of 41 people, some of whom will be brought to rest during the day.

 

 

As of Sunday morning the fire's strongest points are near Moshav Nir Etzion and Mount Shokef, on the western slopes of Dalyat el-Carmel.

 

A senior Fire Services official told reporters Sunday morning, "Thanks to the firefighters' ongoing efforts to prevent the fire from spreading during the night when the planes were inactive, we woke up a little more optimistic this morning."

 
צילום: דודו אזולאי

Russian plane heading out to Carmel (Photo: Dudu Azulay)

 

The official estimated that the fire would be contained by Sunday evening, but stressed that the firefighting activity would likely continue for several more days.

 

Russia's Deputy Civil Defense, Emergency and Disaster Relief Minister Pavel Plat told Ynet he believes firefighters will contain the fire raging on the Carmel mountain range within hours.

 

"I believe it will end shortly. Everything is working according to plan; we are all helping each other," he said.

 

Meanwhile, the Evergreen Supertanker, the world's largest aerial firefighting plane, landed in Israel overnight and will join the fire extinguishing efforts. The American plane, which has a capacity of 80,000 liters of water, is capable of operating in the night as well – as opposed to other firefighting aircraft.

 

In total, some 30 firefighting aircraft and three helicopters – which arrived from the United States, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Azerbaijan, Spain, Romania, Holland and Canada – were expected to operate on Mount Carmel from Sunday morning.

 

The Palestinian Authority is expected to transfer three fire trucks to Israel.

 

senior IDF officer said that the defense establishment had warned of the failures in the firefighting lineup on numerous occasions.

 

"This difficult incident has revealed a weak point, which requires treatment. The State of Israel needs an appropriate firefighting system," he said. The officer admitted that the incident served as "a warning sign" for Israel, in the security aspect as well.

 

Police have arrested a 16-year-old boy and his 14-year-old brother from Usfiya on suspicion of negligence which started the major fire. The two suspects' mother claimed that her sons were in school when the fire broke out and expressed her hope that they would be released from custody soon.

 

Yael Branovsky contributed to this report

 

 

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