It appears as though the Israel Carmel Fire sparked two cases of arson, stoking the flames even higher.
After the first fire broke out in the Mount Carmel region, two additional fires in separate locations started consuming acres of forest land in Israel, investigators are reporting at a press conference. While the first large fire was believed to be caused by negligence (2 teen boys), the fire brigade is not ruling out arson. Suspicious objects at one of the two other fire focal points include an abandoned bike and a wig.
Here is what the Jerusalem Post is reporting:
Police have said that additional fires in Kiryat Bialik and Tivon were both caused by arson.
A separate wildfire was reported Friday afternoon in a field near Route 70, in the southern Carmel mountains near Bat Shlomo (south of Haifa). Route 70 was closed to traffic in both directions.
Earlier on Friday, police found a bike, and a wig inside a bag near a fire center in Tzur Shalom, leading them to believe that the fire was caused by an arsonist or arsonists.
Police Spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told the Post that there are 3 fire centers – Tzur Shalom, the Atlit – Tirat Hacarmel area, and the Carmel hillsides.
In one, Tzur Shalom, north of Haifa, “we located suspicious items pointing to arson. As for the other two major fires, it is too early and the incidents are too large in scale to know their causes at this stage.”
The death toll in the fires rose to 42 on Friday, according to Army Radio.
This is one of Israel’s biggest environmental catastrophes ever. The fires, still raging, have wiped out more than half of the Carmel Forest, a UNESCO protected natural heritage site whose wounds, if they ever recover, will take decades to heal.
But there is a lingering suspicion on the ground that the flames of two additional wildfires in Israel have been stoked by arsonists as a new form of terror. Environmental terror. I hope it’s not true. If so, I’d call for an international day of mourning our planet for the level at which humanity has sunk.