3 badly injured in fire at Ma’ale Adumim apartment block

3 badly injured in fire at Ma’ale Adumim apartment block

12 people, including a 4-month-old baby, suffer smoke inhalation in West Bank settlement before firefighters bring flames under control; cause of early morning blaze unclear

The scene of a fire that broke out in an apartment block in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in the early hours of November 26, 2016 (Magen David Adom)


blaze broke out in a five-story apartment block in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim in the early hours of Saturday, trapping dozens of residents and injuring 12.

 

hree people suffered serious injuries, the first major casualties since the outbreak of fires across the country began earlier this week. Two people in their twenties were taken to Hadassah Hospital, Ein Kerem on Jerusalem fighting for their lives. Another woman in her 50s was also in serious condition at Hadassah. A four-month-old baby was lightly hurt.

Not long afterwards, firefighters brought the inferno under control, Ynet reported. The cause of the first-floor fire wasn’t immediately clear.

“We saw a residential building enveloped in smoke, it wasn’t possible to enter the stairwell and people were screaming for help,” paramedics from the Magen David Adom rescue service told the Ynet website.

“The firemen arrived with cranes and ladders and rescued those injured from smoke inhalation, including a young man and woman who were unconscious,” the paramedics said.

“We gave them life-saving treatment, including CPR and evacuated them to the hospital when they are sedated and intubated in serious condition. Another 10 residents suffering smoke inhalation, including a 4-month-old baby girl and two 16-year-old boys, were treated by our large numbers of teams who arrived in large numbers at the scene.”

The fire in the settlement just east of Jerusalem was the latest in a series of suspected arson attacks and wildfires that have cut a swath of destruction across Israel since Tuesday.

Fire burning in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on November 26, 2016 (Israel Fire and Rescue Services)

Fire burning in the West Bank settlement of Halamish on November 26, 2016 (Israel Fire and Rescue Services)

 

Late Friday night, multiple teams of firefighters and firefighting planes also rushed to the central West Bank settlement of Halamish, where dozens of homes were engulfed by flames and some 350 residents were evacuated when power lines caught alight.

The fire was finally brought under control on Saturday morning. Two residents and two firefighters were lightly injured.

Also Friday night, Israel’s overstretched firefighters beat back most of the flames from the community of Nataf, west of Jerusalem, but residents were told to stay away for fear of another outbreak of fire.

Nataf’s residents were evacuated on Friday afternoon — for the third time in four days — as a massive wildfire in the area threatened homes. Emergency teams went door to door, ensuring residents had all left the community.

The access road to Nataf was closed until Saturday, due to fears that a change in direction of strong winds could rekindle the fire, Channel 2 reported.

Some 150 firefighters were still at Nataf overnight Friday-Saturday, with officials saying there was still a risk to homes in the north-western part of the community.

Authorities reportedly first suspected that the blaze was started by a petrol bomb thrown from the nearby Palestinian village of Katana. These reports were not confirmed.

Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said Friday night that investigators know who set fire to the woods near Nataf, and that authorities “were prepared to thwart” those involved through “deterrence and catching suspects, through observers and patrols in the sky and on land.”

“These are very simple terror attacks,” he told Army Radio. “Generally the attackers themselves know about it only a few minutes beforehand, so we can’t make preventative arrests.”

Nataf’s renowned restaurant Rama’s Kitchen was totally destroyed in the fire Friday, as was part of the owner’s home. Other homes were also in the line of the flames.

The popular restaurant was hosting a wedding celebration when emergency personnel ordered guests to evacuate at around 3 p.m. Friday. The owners had posted images on Thursday on Facebook when a previous blaze came close to the establishment, and thanked the many people who had expressed concern for their well-being.

Maya Ben Zvi, the owner of Rama's Kitchen, talks about the loss of her restaurant in a fire in the Jerusalem hills community of Nataf on November 25, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)

Maya Ben Zvi, the owner of Rama’s Kitchen, talks about the loss of her restaurant in a fire in the Jerusalem hills community of Nataf on November 25, 2016 (screen capture: Channel 2)

The fire threatening Nataf and the nearby West Bank settlement of Mevo Horon began earlier Friday in the Ma’ale Hahasmisha area of the Jerusalem hills. Multiple teams of firefighters were deployed to the area. At least 20 planes were operating there, dousing the flames from the skies.

The massive wildfire spread as far as Mevo Horon on Friday evening, threatening to engulf homes and an industrial park and sending Israel’s already stretched firefighters scrambling to douse the flames.

 

Fire fighters try to extinguish a blaze at Nataf, outside Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Fire fighters try to extinguish a blaze at Nataf, outside Jerusalem, on November 25, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

No one has been killed in the fires, but hundreds have been injured, dozens of homes burned and, in Haifa, tens of thousands were evacuated and hundreds of residences were damaged.

More than a dozen suspects have been arrested on suspicion of sparking at least some of the hundreds of fires that have threatened Israeli towns and forests. Among the suspects are several whom the Shin Bet domestic security service and police believe are responsible for starting some of the devastating fires that ripped through Haifa on Thursday.

Investigators have said a large portion of the blazes, as many as half by some accounts, have clearly been caused by accidents and/or the exceptionally dry and windy weather of the last few days, while some indicate arson, and still others are under investigation.

Alsheich established a special investigative unit on Thursday to determine the cause of the fires and help locate arsonists. Earlier Thursday, he acknowledged arson “in some cases… presumably out of nationalistic motives.”

The timesofisrael

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