Israeli firefighters on Friday reined in a blaze that had spread across the country’s third-largest city of Haifa and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, but continued to battle more than a dozen other fires around the country for the fourth day in a row.
Some of the 60,000 evacuated began trickling back to their charred homes to assess the damage as police and firefighting units remained heavily deployed in the Haifa area for fear that the fire could be reignited due to the dry, windy weather.
Though no serious injuries were caused, several dozen people have been hospitalized for smoke inhalation. Hundreds of homes were damaged and in a rare move, Israel on Thursday called up military reservists to join overstretched police and firefighters and made use of an international fleet of firefighting aircraft sent by several countries.
A Boeing 747-400 Supertanker, the world’s largest fire-fighting aircraft capable of carrying 75 tons of fire retardant, is scheduled to arrive later Friday to help the efforts, though officials said it may not be needed by then. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a small village in the forests near Jerusalem was evacuated overnight as several homes there caught fire. Other small fires were under control, he added.