Please pray for Israel this night.
Photo: Avihu Shapiro
Tirat Carmel, Haifa neighborhoods evacuated as giant blaze threatens homes in northern towns. Firefighters say Israel will probably not be able to battle fire on its own, authorities counting on help from abroadResidents of the northern city of Tirat Carmel stood shocked before a wall of flames Friday, after some 5,000 of their neighbors had already been evacuated from their homes. Firefighters are still trying to fight the massive forest blaze that overtook northern Israel Thursday evening and claimed the lives of some 40 people, with the Jewish National Fund declaring that nearly 5,000 acres had already gone up in flame. Authorities in Haifa say they do not believe Israel can overcome the fire on its own, and it appears the state is counting on outside help. "Six planes, each carrying six cubic meters of extinguishant, could put an end to this crazy fire," Haifa Firefighters said.
The first to respond to Israel's cry for help was Greece, and one of the country's planes landed at the Ramat David base overnight. It is expected to fly into action soon. A Bulgarian mission, a plane carrying a hundred firefighters led by the country's deputy foreign minister, is also at ready.
Overnight more than 15,000 people were evacuated from their homes, with flames reaching the entrance to the Druze village of Isfiya as well as an IDF prison evacuated earlier.
UPDATE 11:53pm: Northern fire: More than 15,000 residents evacuated, flames near Haifa
Mass evacuation continues into night as fire rages in northern Israel, thousands of Haifa residents ordered to leave homes; at least 40 people dead, casualty information center reopens for first time since Second Lebanon War
UPDATE: The first of 19 international aircraft carrying firefighters, supplies and fire retardant chemicals landed at the Ramat David Israel Air Force base in the North early Friday morning.(J Post)
The Greek plane, the first of four which are expected, brought much needed fire retardant supplies and additional firefighting forces who will join Israeli fire crews battling the uncontrolled Carmel forest fire.
UPDATE: 11:47 pm: Unconfirmed reports of 66 casualties.
UPDATE: Channel 2 (Israel) reports that the fire simultaneously started this morning in 3 separate locations.
Channel 2 reporter Yossi Mizrachi said that the way in which the fire spread indicated that the blaze erupted from three locations simultaneously -- making arson a likely possibility.
Muqata is updating here hour on the hour (hat tip Ma Sands)
Deadliest fire in Israel’s history leaves 40 dead. Netanyahu describes fire as a “catastrophe the likes of which we have never known”; appeals to Russia, Italy, Greece and Cyprus for help; declares national day of mourning for victims CiF Watch
Northern Israel was in a state of emergency on Thursday night as the deadliest fire in Israel’s history, in the Carmel Forest near Haifa, brought life to a halt in communities near the blaze. As the blazing fire, which started running wild on Thursday (Dec. 2) afternoon, continued spreading in the Carmel Forest near Haifa (northern Israel) annihilating over 750 acres, a bus carrying as many as 50 passengers overturned en route between kibbutz Beit Oren and Damon Prison, allegedly after the driver lost control of the vehicle because of the fire and surrounding smoke. 40 people have been killed and ten were injured. There are reports that Carmel Hospital may have to be evacuated.
The IDF allocated all of its resources on Thursday to assist the Fire and Rescue Service in battling the blaze. The IDF Home Front Command had established a command post near the scene of the blaze and was coordinating relief efforts together with the Northern Police District. The IDF sent the Northern District Police Commander, IAF helicopters, hundreds of soldiers from local education bases, tens of medical crews including medics and doctors as well as medical supplies and two army battalions to help put out the fire and carry tanks of water.There are only 1500 firefighters in Israel and the nation has run out of flame retardant chemicals. Respondin