Massive fire outside Jerusalem prompts evacuation of residents

Weather conditions make it difficult for fire fighting teams to get flames in Beit Shemesh under control; six planes assist 20 teams sent to area; IKEA branch evacuated from shoppers out of fear fire may spread further

Haim Goldich|
A fire broke out on Thursday near the city of Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem, prompting authorities to evacuate residents for fear the flames could engulf their homes.
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  • Another massive fire was reported in an open field near Kfar Menahem, in southern Israel.
    Fires near Beit Shemesh
    (Beit Shemesh News - Documentation of Firefighting and Rescue Operations, Jerusalem District)
    Emergency services said the first reports of the flames near Beit Shemesh came at 3pm, and that weather conditions were making it difficult to get the fire under control.
    At least 20 firefighting teams were on the scene, including some from Jerusalem, with six planes deployed to assist in the efforts. A special command center has been set up in the area.
    5 View gallery
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    Aerial view of the fires near Beit Shemesh
    (Photo: Israel Fire and Rescue Aerial Unit)
    A local resident and her 17-year-old son said they had sprayed their home with water to prevent the flames from igniting it.
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    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    Flames endanger homes near Beit Shemesh
    (Photo: J'lm Fire and Rescue Services )
    "If we had at our disposal proper fire hoses, we would be better able to prevent damage," the woman said. "My husband has been clearing the brush near our home but we were lucky that the wind turned," she said.
    5 View gallery
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    Fires near Beit Shemesh
    (Photo: Jerusalem Fire and Rescue Spokespersons)
    Hikers and cyclists were told to avoid the area and its popular trails.
    5 View gallery
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    השריפה באיזור יישוב תרום
    Fires near Beit Shemesh
    (Beit Shemesh News - Documentation of Firefighting and Rescue Operations, Jerusalem District)
    The local Ikea branch was also evacuated and shoppers sent home after the still out of control fire continued to spread.
    5 View gallery
    מתחם איקאה באשתאול, והעשן ברקע
    מתחם איקאה באשתאול, והעשן ברקע
    IKEA evacuated after forest fire spread near Beit Shemesh
    (Photo: Eli Mandelbaum)
    Last month, more than 10,000 dunams (2.500 acres) of open fields went up in flames in two fires on the Golan Heights, which authorities suspected were the result of arson.
    There too the flames began in two different locations.

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