Firefighting planes were called in Thursday morning to douse a blaze that had broken out in the chareidi city of Elad in central Israel. Investigators said that the fire may have started from the smoldering remains of a bonfire that had not been put out properly the night before.
If so, it is one of dozens firefighters were dealing with around the country, the result of Lag BaOmer bonfires that were not properly put out. Local authorities had deployed firefighters and volunteers in almost all cities and towns Wednesday night and were able to properly supervise them, police said in a statement. Nearly all the fires Thursday were in wooded areas outside cities, where groups had apparently gone to light bonfires – as appeared to be the case in Elad.
The very hot weather Thursday was not helping matters, with temperatures in the 30s Celsius (around 90 degrees Fahrenheit) in many places by 9:00 a.m. That hot weather was also being credited for the high level of smog and pollution in Israeli skies Thursday. Although police reported that most fires were kept lower because of the weather, pollution was over 11 times the normal level on Thursday morning – the highest pollution level ever recorded in Israel, police said.