Jerusalem wildfires brought under control: Officials

Blaze under control after 52 hours, with no serious injuries reported in the worst fires in the Jerusalem area in years.

The outbreak began on Sunday and sent palls of acrid smoke billowing over the city [Ahmad Gharabli/AFP]

Wildfires in wooded hills near Jerusalem have been contained, the Israeli fire brigade said, after crews waged a three-day battle joined by Palestinian firefighters and the Israeli Air Force.

No serious injuries were reported in the worst fires in the Jerusalem area for years.

Evacuated residents of several outlying small communities were able to return home on Monday, and Israel withdrew on Tuesday a request for international air support to fight the fires, which burned more than 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares) of land.

National Fire and Rescue chief Dedi Simchi said in broadcast remarks after nightfall on Tuesday that the flames had been “fully contained”.

Israeli fire service said that after 52 hours of battling the flames, “all of the fires around Jerusalem have been brought under control,” a statement said.

Hundreds of families were evacuated from 10 villages west of the city over the three days. The firefighters said there were no casualties.

The outbreak began on Sunday and sent palls of acrid smoke billowing over the city.

Palestinian help

Several fire trucks from the Palestinian Authority (PA) took part in operations on Tuesday.

Israeli media and leaders highlighted the assistance, but official Palestinian news outlets made no immediate mention of the aid.

“I would like to thank PA Chairman [Mahmoud] Abbas for his initiative to send the firefighters who came to assist Israel today. Mutual care and saving human lives are common interests to us all,” the Israeli defence minister, Benny Gantz, said in a statement.

The PA exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank under an interim peace deal with Israel signed in the 1990s. The United States-brokered talks on a final agreement collapsed seven years ago.

A US-made, Israeli Air Force C-130J “Super Hercules” transport plane joined smaller aircraft on Tuesday in dumping chemical retardant on the wildfires.

Forest fires in the searing summer heat are common in Israel as they are in other countries bordering the Mediterranean.

This year, deadly wildfires have broken out in Algeria, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Algeria was the hardest hit, with at least 90 people killed.

Morocco and Tunisia have also been affected.

Source: News Agencies