(Scroll to the bottom to see updates on this article.)
Two suspects have been arrested and accused of negligence in starting the large fire in the Carmel area of Israel that has burned over 9,800 acres and killed about 41 people. Authorities did not specify exactly how the fire started or elaborate on the “negligence”.
Most of the fatalities occurred when a bus load of prison system employees on the way to evacuate a prison became entrapped when a highway was blocked by a fallen tree. The bus and another vehicle behind it were engulfed in flames.
The fires have forced about 17,000 to evacuate their homes, as well as three jails, a university, and a hospital.
As the flames are blackening about half of Israel’s national forest, the criticism mounts of the inadequate state of the country’s firefighting capacity. There have been calls for resignations and investigations.
At least 12 countries are sending aid to Israel to help combat the fires, which we detailed HERE. The Israli Air Force is expecting at least 25 firefighting aircraft, including the American 747 Supertanker, Air Tanker 979, owned by Evergreen. It is expected to land at Ben Gurion International Airport at 4:11 MT today. After crew rest, the 747 may be available for operations on Sunday, if Evergreen’s schedule holds up.
The United States is sending three at least six C-130 aircraft with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) from Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing in Cheyenne, Wyoming; 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard in Charlotte, N.C.; the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard in Port Hueneme, Calif.; and the 302nd Airlift Wing Air Force Reserve unit at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado. Two other military planes are ferrying firefighting supplies to Israel.
The United States is also sending Custer’s National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Team, 45 metric tons of Fire-Trol fire retardant and 12,000 liters of WD881 Class A foam. The fire retardant is being flown to Israel by U.S. military C-130’s and aircraft chartered by the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Here is a map of the fire in the Carmel forest area of Israel.
FirefighterCloseCalls has some details about one of the firefighter fatalities:
TEEN VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER & POLICE COMMANDER KILLED IN ISRAELI WILDLAND FIRE
The Secret List www.FireFighterCloseCalls.com
The remains of a 16 year-old teenage volunteer Firefighter who was killed in the Carmel forest fire in Israel were identified this morning (Saturday). Elad Riven, from Haifa, killed on Thursday, was a volunteer with a scout group made of students who work with the regions firefighting service. Riven was in the northern city of Afula when his mother received a phone call to alert Riven to respond to the wildfire. He left and arrived on the scene to assist the Firefighters who were working to evacuate residents of the area.
Most of the 42 victims whose lives have been claimed in the devastating wildfire perished on Thursday when a bus brought in to evacuate people got caught in the fire. The bus was carrying members of a Prison Service guards’ course who were heading to the Damon jail in order to help evacuate inmates.
On Friday, the remains of a Police Commander who was killed while on his way to rescue residents were identified. Lior Boker, age 57, was head of police operations for Israel’s northern region. Police had gathered a search party for Boker, who was thought to be missing, on Thursday. He apparently was caught in the fire while trying to identify the location of the bus of prison service guard students. As always, our condolences to all affected.
UPDATE @ 1:12 p.m. MT, December 4
The National Interagency Fire Center is reporting that they are filling an order to send three Type 1 hand crews to the fires in Israel. They will be a mix of hotshots and smokejumpers, and are requested to be in Tel Aviv, Israel Monday at 2:00 p.m. local time.