Help from the sky
Photo: Bne Kelmer
Fire trucks on way
Photo: Ben Kelmer

Initial probe: Negligence cause of fire

Joint police, fire service investigation team's preliminary probe suggests initial blaze caused by bonfire lit by residents near Usfiya; two brothers arrested. Team suspects fires in other locations may have been set by arsonists

A preliminary investigation by a joint team of the police and fire department indicates that the worst wildfire in the country's history, which erupted on Thursday, was caused by negligence, according to a statement given by Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen on Saturday during an assessment meeting with senior officials from the police's northern district.


The special investigation team, formed to probe the cause of the blaze, consists of fire service and police investigators.


Deputy Inspector General Ronny Atiya, commander of the police costal district, said during a press conference on Saturday afternoon that two suspects - brothers from the Druze village of Usfiya, had been arrested by the police on suspicion of negligence. The two were taken in for questioning by the Haifa Police.  


The fire erupted on Thursday, slightly after 11 am, in a wooded area northwest of the Druze town of Usfiya, located in the Carmel mountain range.


Evidence gathered from the scene suggests that residents residing in the area lit fires, and one of them was not extinguished in time, kindling a massive wildfire that swept through the area.


The investigation team is still probing the cause of other fires in the area, in order to determine whether they were set by arsonists.


"The distances between the different locations are illogical," said a police official. "It is not a fire that is consuming an entire area. If you stand in one place you can see fires that are four or five kilometers apart. These were not set by a spark flying in the air."


Meanwhile, the residents of Tirat Carmel, Haifa's Denya neighborhood, Kfar Galim, Kibbut Hahotrim and Moshav Megadim were authorized by the police on Saturday afternoon to return to their homes after being evacuated due to the fire.


Roni Sofer, Eli Senyor, Ahiya Raved and Yair Altman contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 12.04.10, 11:45
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