Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thousands Flee as Massive Fires Rage in Haifa

What a day!! Driving downtown for the weekly shopping, we noticed one road sealed by the police and indications of a fire. Little did we know that this was to be the start of a day of fires in so many neighbourhoods.

Homes and other buildings were damaged by blazes as 11 neighborhoods were told to evacuate; 36 were treated for injuries as other fires pop up across country and West Bank for 3rd day.

The University of Haifa was also evacuated on as a precautionary move as fires raged in the northern city.

In addition, trains between the northern towns of Binyamina and Hadera were halted at the request of fire and rescue services as fires neared the railway tracks in the Caesarea region. 

On Thursday morning, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Army Radio that 50% of these fires were caused by repeated arson, 

“The fire is not under control; residents should quickly evacuate,” the Haifa fire chief said, according to Walla News, as eyewitnesses described firefighters having little success in checking the onslaught of the flames.

Firefighting planes from Cyrus, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Croatia were being brought in and the army’s Home Front Command called in soldiers and rescuers to aid with the effort. Four planes — two Bombadiers and a Hercules from Greece and an air tractor from Cyprus — and 49 crew members arrived Thursday morning. The planes are able to carry larger amounts of fire retardant than local aircraft.
In the city’s Romema neighborhood, a large apartment tower was seen going up in flames.
Israeli TV broadcast pictures of paramedics frantically moving elderly people out of a nursing home in the Romema neighborhood of Haifa as black smoke billowed overhead.
Firefighters also worked to try and keep flames from nearing a gas station close to the city’s Paz bridge, next to the main fire station and a main artery going north was closed.
“We’re in a state of war,” Haifa fire service spokesman Uri Chibutro told Channel 2 news.
Major traffic jams were reported as residents in affected neighborhoods attempted to move to safer ground.
An Israel fire service spokesman told The Times of Israel arson was suspected in Haifa based on circumstantial evidence, but nothing had been confirmed.
A fire was also reported close to the Israel Electric Corporation’s huge coal-fired power station in coastal Hadera. Firefighters said the outbreak was under control.
Along with the international aid, the IDF Home Front Command’s Kedem Battalion was been called in to help with the evacuations in the Mount Carmel area, an IDF spokesperson said.
In addition, firefighter reservists in the Home Front Command have also been called up to assist in battling the blazes around the country.
Are we leaving our home? Probably yes as a precaution, So let's start packing!!

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