41 Hours of Inferno: Israel overcomes mass blazes throughout the country

May 26, 2019 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel’s Firefighting and Rescue Service announced Saturday that it has concluded Operation “Hot Fire” to suppress the blazes that raged at various locations throughout the country.

Photo by Rivka Franks/TPS

No one was injured in the fires, but 13 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation.

Over 3,500 Israelis were evacuated from their homes due to fires caused by an extreme heatwave.

For long hours, with extremely high temperatures and while battling high winds, the firefighters fought dozens of fires simultaneously. The Fire Squadrons operated in continuous rounds, assisted by its aircraft unit and another nine aircraft sent by Egypt, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Croatia.

“We express our gratitude to the countries extending assistance in combating forest fires as well as those who have expressed willingness to help. Thank you Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Croatia and Italy for your friendship. A friend in need is a friend indeed,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon stated Friday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked “my friend Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for sending two helicopters to help in putting out the fires that have broken out across Israel”.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s spokesperson for the Arab media Ofir Gendelman noted that “Israeli firefighters and an Egyptian helicopter were working together yesterday in order to put out a huge fire that broke out in southern Israel.  This is what peace is all about.”

The firefighters combated 1023, a new event starting every two minutes over the course of 41 hours. Some 32,000 acres and 50 homes in Mevo Modi’im and Kibbutz Harel were consumed in the fires.

Over 1300 firefighters, 300 volunteers, and 490 vehicles participated in the events, operating in temperatures ranging between 40 to 45 degrees, 10 percent humidity, and strong winds.

Communities across Israel rallied to aid those who have lost everything in the fires, collecting money, clothes and personal belongings, and the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America also announced they will provide immediate emergency assistance to 60 families in Mevo Modi’im and Kibbutz Harel whose homes were destroyed by the devastating wildfires.

The assistance provided by the Jewish Agency, in coordination with the local welfare authorities in each community, amounts to approximately $1,000 USD per family.

Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog stated that “we especially feel the strength of Jewish solidarity at times like these, when dozens of Israeli families coping with the shock of losing their home and property receive an immediate embrace from their sisters and brothers across the ocean. These funds help the families with immediate needs like clothes and personal belongings. The Jewish Agency will be there to support these families in any way possible, together with our Jewish family in the Diaspora.”

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