Some 395 acres of woodlands near Jerusalem have been consumed in Friday’s forest fire, the largest of its kind in Israel in five years, Israeli officials said Saturday.

fireA spokesperson for the Jewish National Fund, an organization in charge of afforestation in Israel, said that wildlife, including local jackals, turtles and snakes were trapped by the fire and perished.

He estimated that it will take about 20 years to recover the forest from the blaze that broke Friday near Beit Shemesh, some 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem.

The wildfire raged for hours as more than 150 firefighters and 13 aircrafts struggled to contain it. Control of the fire was finally gained late on Friday, said a spokesperson with Israel’s Fire and Rescue Authority, adding that on Saturday morning firefighting teams were still on the scene, fearing the flames could reignite.

He added that the fire was the largest since a deadly fire in 2010 consumed about 50,000 dunams (about 12,000 acres) of the Mediterranean forest of the Carmel ridge in northern Israel and killed 44 people.

Late Friday, Xinhua reporters saw fires raging in many places in forests near the town of Ta’oz on the highway Route 44, which was closed to traffic due to the blaze.

Columns of thick black smoke could be seen rising from the blaze-affected areas from a long stance near Jerusalem and a number of aircraft were seen dumping fire retardant on the wildfires.

Israel’s Ynet news site reported that Initial investigation suggested that the fire was caused by negligence during a burning of yard waste in Ta’oz.

Also on Friday, another fire broke out in northern Israel’s Galilee region and it was later put under control thanks to efforts of dozens of firefighters assisted by two aircraft. Enditem


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