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Tens of Thousands Evacuated as Wildfire Roars Through Haifa

ISRAEL-FIRE-HAIFA
ISRAEL-FIRE-HAIFA
An Israeli firefighter plane helps extinguish a fire in the northern Israeli port city of Haifa on November 24, 2016.
Hundreds of Israelis fled their homes on the outskirts of the country’s third city Haifa with others trapped inside as firefighters struggled to control raging bushfires, officials said. / AFP / JACK GUEZ (Photo credit should read JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from Israel’s third largest city of Haifa as a fierce forest fire roars through parts of the city, devouring forests and damaging homes and businesses.

A fire department spokesman said that there are many people who are stuck and the flames are nearing a petrol station.

High winds and warm, dry weather conditions have contributed to blazes all over the country this week, including outside Jerusalem, where fires closed the main motorway linking the city to Tel Aviv.

Dozens of people have been treated for smoke inhalation, but no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu told Haaretz that he suspects the fires were caused by arson, “Every fire that was the result of arson or incitement to arson is terror in every way and we’ll treat it as such. Anyone who tries to burn parts of the state of Israel will be severely punished.”

Firefighting planes from Cyprus and Greece have arrived, and more help is on the way from Croatia, Italy and Turkey.

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