JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Firefighters battling a wildfire in wooded hills outside Jerusalem evacuated more small communities on Monday as planes and crews fought flames for a second day.
The blaze some 10 km (six miles) west of Jerusalem sent clouds of smoke billowing east but there appeared to be little danger the fire would reach the city. No serious injuries have been reported.
Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority said 45 crews and eight planes were battling the blaze, which the country’s internal security minister said burned around 4,200 acres (17,000 hectares) on Sunday, forcing hundreds to evacuate.
Several more communities were evacuated on Monday afternoon, the Fire and Rescue Authority wrote on Twitter, while others were given evacuation orders. The authority’s commissioner announced a general mobilization for personnel to help stop the blaze.
In a meeting with fire and rescue officials late on Sunday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was concerned the blaze could reach Jerusalem’s western localities, including the area of Ein Kerem, home to Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center.
“Fire brigades are preparing a defensive position there,” Bennett said, warning that while he was hopeful crews would bring the blaze under control, “fires and winds have a capricious dynamic.”
An investigation has been launched into the cause of the fires, the Fire and Rescue Authority said.
(Reporting by Rami Ayyub; editing by Jonathan Oatis)