Extreme heat caused fires to rage across Israel on Wednesday, as police evacuated residents throughout the country from hundreds of homes, 15 of which caught fire.
A fire broke out mid afternoon in a parking lot in Jerusalem’s Malha neighborhood, setting 10 cars aflame. Within 45 minutes, the Fire and Rescue Services brought the blaze under control, preventing it from spreading to nearby vegetation and buildings.
The Aderet and Roglit settlements close to Jerusalem, and the Shavei Shomron settlement in the West Bank, were evacuated due to fires that reached houses there. Flames were eventually subdued in all three locations.
Five houses caught on fire at the Ramat Pinkas neighborhood in Or Yehuda close to Tel Aviv. Police attempted to evacuate residents while firefighters gained control of the flames. Several residents were rescued and treated for wounds at the scene.
The first massive fire broke out in the Nesher neighborhood of Haifa near the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, forcing police to temporarily close Route 2, as the school’s security forces sent an evacuation notice to students on campus. Two men suffered light injuries due to inhaling smoke and were treated by MDA personnel on the scene.
Other locations affected by the fires were the Tomer settlement in the Jordan Valley, the Negev, the Adam facility in Neot Kedumim, Shoham, Modi’in, Barta’a and Wadi Ara.
Residents of an institution in Moshav Roglit for people with disabilities were evacuated to the Shalva Center in Jerusalem, an emergency center run by the Labor and Social Services Ministry. The center is preparing for the long-term absorption of the residents.
The fires come as a result of a heat wave affecting most of the country. The high temperatures reached their peaks midday, with some cities reaching 50°C. Weather conditions began to improve around 5 p.m., when the Fire and Rescue Services was able to gain control over most of the fires.
MDA reported that more than 120 residents were treated for heat stroke, dehydration, fainting and exhaustion. Seven of those injured were treated for mild injuries due to smoke inhalation, and one eight-year-old was evacuated to a hospital in serious condition due to heat stroke. His condition later stabilized, although he remains hospitalized in intensive care.
Electricity consumption reached an all-time high during the day, with a record-breaking 13,521 megawatts used throughout the country, according to a report by the Israel Electric Corporation.
Meanwhile, Eilat experienced unseasonal light rainfall, in stark contrast to the rest of the country.