December 3, 2010
by Jennifer Lipman
Israeli charities and aid organisations are on high alert as firefighters attempt to bring a devastating forest fire in the Carmel mountain regions near Haifa under control before Shabbat.
The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) are amongst the organisations that have launched emergency appeals for support from the international community in the wake of the disaster.
More than 40 people have already died in an accident believed to be caused by the blaze, thousands of acres of vegetation destroyed and 15,000 people have been evacuated from homes and kibbutzim in the area.
But strong winds mean firefighters are struggling to limit the fire, labelled the worst such disaster in Israel’s history.
JAFI stressed that the country lacked sufficient flame retardant and called on people to donate money to provide evacuees with emergency shelter and trauma relief for the families of fire victims. The organisation said: “Help Israel cope with this catastrophe.”
The JNF emphasised the Israeli fire department’s need for infra-red cameras to aid in the search for people trapped people in burning buildings.
The cameras cost $7,500 each. Donations are also being sought to provide new fire trucks, hoses and helmets.
A spokesman for Magen David Adom said that its medics had treated 20 people, as well as five MDA staff, for smoke inhalation and that three people were in critical condition.
MDA has put its teams in the north of Israel on high alert. They have supplied extra units of blood to hospitals in Haifa and arranged for paramedics teams to be on standby in case of emergency.
Crews from medical support organisation United Hatzalah have also travelled to the region to help with the ongoing emergency and provide relief to teams already there, as well as to help in case other nearby areas are affected.