Officials: Ramot Lag BaOmer Fire Due to Bonfire Negligence

Fire fighters work to put out a fire in the woods around the Ramot neighborhood of Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Fire fighters work to put out a fire in the woods around the Ramot neighborhood of Yerushalayim, last Thursday. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A major fire that broke out in the Arazim Valley outside Yerushalayim on Lag BaOmer day was due to a bonfire that had been used the night before and was not properly extinguished, fire investigators have concluded. The investigation noted that burning bonfires, campfires, or other flames in the forest is illegal, and police said they were collecting evidence that they hoped would lead to the perpetrators of the fire.

The fire was one of dozens that broke out on Lag BaOmer night and day due to improperly doused fires, where those who put the fire out allowed sparks to remain that eventually kindled twigs and branches, setting off a major fire. In the Arazim Valley fire, about 100 families had to be evacuated from their homes in the Ramot neighborhood because the flames had advanced too close. The fire spread rapidly as hot weather and high winds exacerbated the situation.

A second fire in the Romema neighborhood was set when some youths were playing with fire and accidentally set flammable material alight, causing a major fire that required dozens of firefighters to put out. The youths in that fire have been identified, police said.

Fire officials appealed to Israelis to be very careful when handling fire in the hot summer months – and to keep their children away from fire altogether, in order to avoid major damage to Israel’s forests.

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