Residents were evacuated from their homes in the village of Yavne'el in northern Israel, and near Maale Hahamisha in the Jerusalem area, as two fires were burning Thursday night.
Six firefighting crews were battling the blaze between Yavne'el and Sharona in the lower Galilee. Residents of homes in Yavne'el were evacuated from their homes as the flames came dangerously close to residential areas, officials said. Firefighting planes were dispatched to spray water on and near the homes to prevent the flames from advancing.
Meanwhile, 15 firefighting crews were dispatched to fight a large blaze in the area of Maale Hahamisha, a rural town in the Jerusalem area. The fire has been burning since the afternoon, and firefighters have spent long hours trying to put it out. Several roads in the area have been closed due to thick smoke clouds which are floating around the area.
When the fires are put out, investigators will begin the long work of trying to determine what caused the fire. Studies have shown that many of the forest fires set in Israel are part of the “arson intifada” of Arabs against the state of Israel. Earlier in June, nine Arabs were arrested on suspicion of setting fire to brushes near the community of Beitar Ilit, close to Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.