Tags: israel fire carmel

At Least 40 Die in Carmel Mountains Bus Fire

Thursday, 02 Dec 2010 02:54 PM


The IDF allocated all of its resources on Thursday to assist the Fire and Rescue Service in battling the blaze that had engulfed the Carmel Mountain region and claimed the lives of at least 40 people.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi visited the Fire and Rescue Service’s command post in the North and said that the military will do all it could to help extinguish the fire.

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.

Forces were assisting in evacuating neighborhoods in Tirat Carmel after the fire began to surround the eastern part of the city. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were also diverted to the scene of the fire to assist fire fighters in tracking its direction.

The head of the Haifa Police, Dep.-Cmdr. Ahuva Tomer, was critically injured in the fire and she was evacuated to the Rambam Medical Center and was suffering from severe burns.

Also as a result of the fires 40 prison wardens who were en route to the Damon Prison burned to death in a bus caught up in the blaze .

The wardens were meant to assist in the evacuation of some 500 prisoners from the facility, situated near Kibbutz Beit Oren, when their vehicle became engulfed in fast moving flames which had spread to the narrow mountain road linking Atlit to Kibbutz Bet Oren.

A firefighter spokesman said the blaze had traveled 1500 meters in less than three minutes, adding, "the bus had no chance. They tried to escape but were burned alive. It was a horrific scene."

The spokesman added that the fire was very far from the road on which the bus was traveling when it first set off towards the prison, but had spread far faster than expected.

Fire and Rescue Commissioner Shimon Romach added that the firefighting operation would be limited to ground forces after sunset, since fire planes cannot be used at night. "I don't think we will get control of this tonight," he added.

Thousands of dunams have gone up in flames in the Carmel forest between Haifa University and Ussafiya, and it remains unclear how the incident will end at this stage.

Police described the incident as a "major disaster. Many of the dead are from the security forces, and include civilians. The fire is continuing to spread and is endangering many areas."

Police have asked the public to stay clear of the whole area.

Traffic Police sealed off Route 4 between Beit Oren and Haifa over fears that fires could spread to the Atlit-Tirat Hacarmel area. Police have instructed drivers to use Routes 2 or 6 instead and to stay away from the area.

The area in question contains heavy brush which burns easily, according to firefighters. This fact coupled with strong winds has prompted the evacuations and the presence of multiple fire crews brought in to help with the blaze from various districts in the country.

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