- Title: Residents of Israeli city of Haifa evacuated as fire spreads
- Date: 24th November 2016
- Summary: HAIFA, ISRAEL (NOVEMBER 24, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF FIRE IN WOODS AIRPLANE FLYING OVER WOODS AMBULANCE AT SCENE VARIOUS OF AIRPLANE FLYING OVER WOODS VARIOUS OF FIRE TRUCKS AT SCENE SMOKE BILLOWING FROM WOODS AMBULANCE DRIVING AT STREET VARIOUS OF FIRE IN WOODS VARIOUS OF PEOPLE SPRAYING WATER OVER WOODS IN FIRE VARIOUS OF SMOKE IN AIR VARIOUS OF FIRE
- Embargoed: 9th December 2016 13:37
- Keywords: Israel Fire Haifa
- Location: HAIFA, ISRAEL
- City: HAIFA, ISRAEL
- Country: Israel
- Topics: Environment,Weather
- Reuters ID: LVA00159T0PXJ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Tens of thousands of residents were ordered to leave Israel's third largest city on Thursday (November 24) as wildfires tore through Haifa and threatened other areas, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank, fuelled by unusually dry conditions and an easterly wind.
A senior minister in the Israeli government said he believed many of the blazes had been deliberately set, but police said they had no hard evidence at this stage that arson was to blame. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday attributed the fires to "natural and unnatural" causes.
Television pictures showed a wall of flames raging through central neighbourhoods of Haifa, a city of around 300,000 in the north of the country, including near a petrol station that firefighters were rapidly dousing with water.
The government received offers of help from Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Turkey and Russia to fight the blazes billowing in multiple locations spread across nearly half the country. Aerial squadrons were dropping fire-retardant material to try to douse the heaviest fires and stem their spread.
A thick haze of smoke hung over Haifa, which rises up from the Mediterranean Sea overlooking a large port. Schools and universities were being evacuated, and two nearby prisons were preparing to transfer inmates to other jails, a prisons service spokesman said. Patients were moved from a geriatric hospital.
A lack of rain combined with very dry air and strong easterly winds have spread the fires this week across the centre and north of the country, as well as parts of the West Bank. Scores of homes have been damaged or destroyed but no deaths or serious injuries have been reported.
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