Fires ravaging Israel continue
Residents temporarily evacuated from Ya'ad in the north as fires rage; Beit Meir in Jerusalem Mountains evacuated overnight as the flames burned down 10 houses and damaged others; in Sha'ar HaGai on Highway 1, crews were working to stop the fire from reaching a gas station; over a dozen arson suspects arrested, one more suspected of incitement.
Twenty-five firefighting crews, including 60 firefighters, were trying to gain control of the fire in and around the moshav Beit Meir. All residents have been evacuated while ten houses were burned down and others damaged in the fire.
During the night, several of the residents got trapped inside the moshav when the fire spread to the only road leading out, but firefighting forces were able to push the fire back and allow the residents to flee.
In addition to the residents, 400 people staying at moshav Beit Meir's guest houses were also evacuated. Some of the guests were residents of neighborhoods in Haifa that were evacuated on Thursday because of the fire that broke out there. Early Friday afternoon, all Haifa residents were okayed to return to their homes, though there were advised that thirteen buildings were too dangerous to enter, and authorities stressed the importance of following all instructions given by officials present in the city.
Not far from there, firefighting crews were able to put out a fire in Sha'ar HaGai, which is 23 kilometers from Jerusalem on Highway 1 that connects the capital to Tel Aviv. Palestinian firefighting crews aided their Israeli counterparts in gaining control over the fire. Residents from the Mateh Yehuda Regional Council were evacuated to nearby communities as the flames threatened their homes.
Police received reports that several suspects were seen fleeing the scene of the fire in the Jerusalem Mountains soon after it broke out. After a manhunt in the area, one suspect was arrested. Later, a second suspect was arrested.
Friday afternoon, additional fires broke out in the north in the small moshav of Ya'ad, which was evacuated, and 300 meters north of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. Residents were returned to Ya'ad shortly thereafter. The fire in Yitzhar is under the complete control of firefighters, who are operating there with two planes and 3 firetrucks. As the trucks cannot reach the fires, the planes are handling the blaze while the firefighters on the ground are laying out a safety perimeter.
A fire also broke out on Thursday night between the Druze town of Sajur and the Arab down of Nahf in the Galilee, near Karmiel.
The fires spread up the mountainside and the flames reached the houses of the Jewish community of Har Halutz. The residents were evacuated from the community, while six of the houses' yards were damaged by the fire. 16 firefighting crews battled the blaze, extinguishing it around 3am.
Residents of Harashim in the Galilee were evacuated on Friday morning after a fire broke out in the southern part of the community. Fifteen firefighting crews were battling the blaze with the aid of firefighting aircraft.
In Haifa, meanwhile, officials in the Fire & Rescue Authority said Friday it could take up to 10 more days to finish extinguishing all of the fires, after blazes broke out in hundreds of spots across the city. Several of the fires extinguished in Haifa reignited because of the strong winds, and firefighters continue battling them both on the ground and from the air.
Israeli firefighting forces have been aided by their Palestinian counterparts in the battle against the blazes in the city.
Egypt and Jordan offered to aid Israel in fighting the fires. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted both their offers. Egypt is sending two firefighting helicopters, and Jordan is sending firetrucks.
Dozens of houses and public buildings were burned down and damaged in Haifa in the worst day of fire a city in Israel has ever known on Thursday.
Some 75,000 people were evacuated from their homes and have yet to be allowed to return. Those who were initially taken to centers set up by the municipality were moved to hotels, hostels and retirement homes for the night.
On Thursday, some 150 people in the Haifa area sought medical treatment after suffering from smoke inhalation. Dozens of them are still being treated at area hospitals. In addition, one firefighter battling the blazes in the Jerusalem Mountains area was lightly injured and also taken for treatment.
Train movement from Kiryat Gat was stopped overnight because of a fire that broke out in two areas on Highway 6 near the train tracks. Parts of the highway were closed as firefighters were able to gain control of one fire and extinguish the other. The fire damaged some of the train's communication systems.
Meanwhile, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) offered its assistance to new immigrants and elderly people in need of help because of the fires via the Fellowship hotline at *9779.
New immigrants in the Haifa area will receive a text message with details of aid near them. Additionally, the Fellowship will provide vouchers to distribute to the elderly who evacuated their homes.
Volunteers who would like to host in their house, can help transferring those in need or any other financial support can contact the Fellowship hotline as well.
Ahiya Raved, Asaf Zagrizak, Kobi Nachshoni, Omri Efraim, Roy Yanovsky and Eli Mendelbaum contributed to this report.