[UPDATE: Fire official says the cause wasn’t arson but a trash fire, reports Jerusalem Post.]
A raging fire blazes out of control in northern Israel. The Jerusalem Post reports the flames are approaching Haifa University and that nearly 9,000 acres have burned already. I know I’m a little slow out of the gate with this info. But I also know some of you may not be aware.
Following is the content of an email I received from one of the houses of prayer in Jerusalem. I have posted it with permission.
“Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God” (Is. 40:1)
Israel is burning. Tonight as I write this prayer letter, the greatest and deadliest fire since the creation of the State in 1948 is raging out of control. The Carmel range is ablaze. All three Israel television channels are focused on this ongoing disaster. The flames can be seen roaring down hillsides, consuming everything in their path. One Kibbutz has already been burnt out and 5000 people have been forced from their homes. This fire is the worst fire ever in the history of Israel. Every fire fighting unit in the nation has been called to respond
Arson is suspected, as a primary cause to this conflagration since the fire erupted from three locations simultaneously. The mayor of Haifa Yonah Yahav announced that the flames spread on a scale “we have never seen.” Already there have been 40 deaths due to its ferocity. A bus carrying police cadets to assist in evacuating a prison was caught up in the fire and consumed. Thirty six young men died. The Haifa Police chief Ahuva Tomer has also been injured critically with severe burns. Doctors at Haifa’s Rambam hospital are fighting for her life as this hour. Haifa University has also been evacuated A national emergency has been declared and the IDF is being mobilized to help. Israel has also appealed to Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus for aid. The numerous large fires which have already broken out this year or were set have depleted Israel’s reserves of fire-fighting chemicals. Israel planes are reportedly on route to France to bring more supplies of fire retardant back.
A day of Mourning
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said [Thursday night] that this fire is “a disaster of a scope we are not familiar with.” He declared that the people have showed “tremendous strength of spirit, divine heroism, and sacrificed themselves to save others,” Netanyahu also said. “I want to say to the families that are discovering their own personal disasters, we support you and love you. To our Druze brothers – I know you suffered a major blow.”
The prime minister noted that 10 fire extinguishing planes are scheduled to arrive in Israel in the coming hours from Cyprus, Greece and Spain and later on possibly also from Italy and Russia.
The Prime Minister is also going to declare an official day of mourning to be observed in Israel, after this crisis is over.
Earlier [Thursday], Highway 1 leading up to Jerusalem was closed due to another fire, raging near the entrance to the city. Two major fires that raged in Galilee forests Sunday were also apparently caused by arson. Over the past three months, fires have scorched thousands of acres of land, causing tens of millions of shekels in damage. A massive fire also raged near the city of Beit Shemesh on Tuesday. Firefighting crews fought for hours to contain the blaze, and four firefighters were injured from smoke inhalation. The fire was eventually put out, but consumed an estimated 1000 acres of land and damaged five homes. Firefighters suspect arson in that case as well. A second fire broke out Tuesday near the Galilee town of Karmiel. Several firefighting crews worked together to extinguish the blaze. Crews suspect that the Karmiel blaze was also the result of arson.
Please pray that the Carmel fire be extinguished. Pray for the survival of Haifa’s police chief. Pray that the hands of these diabolical arsonists be restrained and punished if caught. Pray also for rain. The drought that has afflicted the entire Middle East is causing untold hardship and suffering. Israel has had no significant rains since last spring. The month of November was the driest in Israel since meteorological records were first kept in the 1920’s. The whole land is a tinderbox.
Pray for God’s miraculous intervention for the land and people of Israel. May God bring comfort to His nation at this hour.
Praying for a Hanukah miracle
Gene and Marylois/House of Peace/Jerusalem