An extensive forest fire broke out Friday afternoon in the Beit Shemesh area, about 30 kilometers east of Jerusalem.
According to firefighting authorities, the blaze is “growing at a tremendous rate due to strong winds,” and is approaching Moshav Eshtoal on Route 38 – the main highway into Beit Shemesh. The blaze, which began in Ya’ar Ha’Nasi (“President’s Forest”), also poses a threat to the communities of Tarum, Ta’oz and Kfar Uriya.
Eight firefighting planes and 15 ground crews are on the scene and additional crews from surrounding districts have been mobilized, among them dozens of firefighters currently on vacation.
Jerusalem District fire chief Eli Peretz arrived at the scene and is supervising the efforts to contain the blaze.
A firefighting crew approaching the blaze, Friday July 24, 2015. (Photo by Beit Shemesh Firefighting Services)
The blaze as seen from Route 44 towards Shimson Junction, Friday July 24, 2015. (Photo by Beit Shemesh Firefighting Services)