The Israeli authorities are investigating suspicions that a massive wildfire that threatened dozens of homes in Jerusalem on Wednesday was started deliberately.
Dozens of teams of firefighters battled the blaze, which raged through the Ein Karem and Kiriyat HaYovel neighborhoods, causing fears it would reach the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. Fiiremen fought to stop the flames from reaching the museum, which had been evacuated.
Battling the blaze from the air (Photo: AFP)
A spokesman for the Jerusalem fire service said the organization is pursuing two major leads, the Israeli media reported Thursday - a group of children spotted fleeing the site of the fire as it started, and the possibility of arson.
Air battle (Photo: Ezra Landau)
Meanwhile, Fire Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon told Israel Radio on Thursday that it was still unclear whether the fire was caused by negligence or arson. The initial assessment, however, is that the fire started in one place.
Hundreds of firefighters fought the flames (Photo: AFP)
Ayalon warned of an increased risk of brushfires in elevated locations such as Jerusalem and Safed this summer, due to the large numbers of trees felled during the winter storms.
Smoke rising over downtown Jerusalem (Photo: Shai Melamed)
More than 50 firefighting units took part in the battle extinguish the fire, which left three people lightly injured from smoke inhalation. Fifteen structures were damaged by the flames, of five of which sustained serious damage.
The brushfire erupted in the afternoon and spread quickly from the wadi to residential areas. Dozens of IDF personnel also turned out to help battle the blaze.