Three-Year-Old Dies in Tzfas Blaze

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of the damage caused from a forest fire in Mevo Modi’im, on Friday. (Avi Dishi/Flash90)

The hot weather in Israel broke Friday night, but fires were still burning in several locations. A fire in an apartment building in Tzfas took the life of a three-year-boy, Elazar Prizat, z”l. His four-year-old brother was badly hurt in the fire, and 14 others were lightly injured from smoke inhalation. An investigation on the cause of the fire is underway. Police said that the fire broke out on the fifth floor of the building.

Fire officials labored Friday deep into the night to prevent the recurrence of blazes in some of the areas where they had broken out Thursday, while new fires appeared Friday afternoon – and while officials attributed most of Thursday’s fires to downed electrical lines and smoldering Lag BaOmer bonfires that were not put out properly Wednesday night, there were numerous instances of deliberately-set fires on Friday.

A firefighting aircraft flies over a forest near Kibbutz Harel, which was damaged by wildfires during a record heatwave, Friday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Meanwhile, new fires broke out on Shabbos, some of them deliberately set by Arabs, Channel 20 quoted security officials as saying. A large brush fire broke out near the entrance to the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood Shabbos afternoon, requiring large numbers of firefighters in order to prevent its spread. Officials said that five other smaller fires had been set in the same area beginning Friday night.

On Friday, security officials observed an Arab setting a fire on Har Hatzofim in Yerushalayim. Security officials descended on the Arab and he attempted to run away, but was caught a short time later. Officials told Channel 20 that the Arab’s motive was “nationalistic.” Several fires broke out Friday afternoon in communities on the Gaza border, and a large fire at Beit Ezra near Ashdod forced the evacuation of that community. Security officials attributed those to incendiary balloons dispatched by Gaza Arab terrorists. A major fire near Kibbutz Carmia was attributed to a tree falling on a high-tension wire, which set off the fire in dry brush.

On Shabbos, several fires were reported in forests in northern Israel, including in the Megiddo Forest. Officials attributed those fires to deliberate arson by Arabs as well. Those fires, as well as the one in Pisgat Ze’ev, were brought under control by Motzoei Shabbos.

While residents in several communities where fires struck Thursday were allowed to return to their homes Friday, others were evacuated Friday afternoon, as flames spread with the weather remaining extremely hot. Residents of Beit Ezra and Yachini, both in southern Israel, were evacuated. At their height Friday afternoon, 14 major fires were burning at the same time.

On Friday, temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit plus were recorded nearly everywhere in the country, and the Israel Electric Company reported that the country had broken its record for electricity use for any day in May – and for any Friday since records were kept. Temperatures began falling Friday night, as a cold front moved into the area, bringing cooler and more humid weather.