Fire Commissioner: 'Jerusalem-area fire broke out as a result of human actions'

Firefighting commander expresses optimism, says fire is not currently spreading but there is 'more work' to do.

103FM ,

The fire in Jerusalem
The fire in Jerusalem
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Fireman officer Hezi Levi, commander of the Coastal District of Israel's Fire and Rescue Services, spoke to 103 FM Radio about the fires raging in the Jerusalem area over the past two days.

"The fire is not currently spreading in any area," he told the radio station. "There are locations which are still smoking, and around twelve noon fires may be sparked from there, when the winds pick up, and that's what we've been working on the past few hours."

According to him, "the fire has been contained in all locations. We used here force on a scale that hasn't been used since 2010, when the [Mount] Carmel disaster occurred. Today we in the Fire and Rescue Services are more organized, we have succeeded in stopping the mega-fire after two days of work. In other countries it takes weeks. We have more work within the blackened areas, very hard work, but if you hear, there's optimism in my report."

Earlier on Tuesday, fireman officer Nissim Twito, one of the Fire and Rescue Services commanders, told 103 FM Radio that, "there will be strong winds starting from about noon, as well as heavy heat and a drop in humidity. This doesn't help us handle things but that's the reason, among other things, that we had a general draft [on Monday] - so that we would be strong enough during the critical hours."

Responding to claims that not enough had been done to gain control of the fire, Twito said, "Fires on this scale and with flames that spread this quickly cannot be contained in one day - not here in Israel and not by our neighbors in Greece and in Turkey."

At the same time, he said that we are "absolutely talking about something man-made. This was a localized event which very quickly" spread to multiple locations, he added. "The investigation is being conducted together with Israel Police and the forensic lab and so on, and when we have the conclusions we will update."

Fire Commissioner Dedi Simchi emphasized that, "the fire broke out as a result of human actions - whether by negligence, or by carelessness, whether intentionally or as the result of arson, we don't yet know. We will continue investigating and the moment we have findings, we will bring them to them to the relevant parties."



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