Ein Keren, Israel – Over 700 residents of the Even Sapir moshav and Ein Keren, near Hadassah University Medical Center in southwest Jerusalem, were forced to evacuate their homes this morning as 20 firefighting teams and eight airplanes attempt to contain a blaze amid soaring temperatures.
According to a fire department official, the fire is believed to have been started due to negligence by a local farmer. As of Sunday afternoon, several homes in Even Sapir have been damaged by the blaze, although the official said the hospital is not in imminent danger.
As a result of the blaze, the entire Even Sapir moshav has been evacuated, and police have closed down Routes 395 and 386 leading to community, as well as the eastbound lanes of Highway 1 towards Jerusalem.
Drivers have been instructed to use Highway 443 as an alternate route to travel from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv until the blaze is contained. No serious injuries have been reported.
Sunday’s fire comes just over a week after an inferno in Beit Shemesh destroyed roughly 1,500 dunams of forest, necessitating the largest mobilization of firefighters since the Mount Carmel blaze five years ago. With temperatures soaring over 100 degrees, fire officials are urging residents to use extreme caution when extinguishing cigarettes and camp fires, or using fire in general.
A joint investigation by police and fire officials has been opened into the cause of the blaze.