Fires rage near Jerusalem-area towns, prompting evacuations

A major fire broke out in forested areas west of Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon, prompting the Israel Fire and Rescue Services to begin evacuating residents in the area.

According to the fire services, the fire broke out on Mount Haruah in the Jerusalem hills, near the Neve Ilan moshav.

“The fire is closing in on homes in Abu Ghosh and Yad Hashmona,” the fire authority said. “Many firefighting forces are working alongside four firefighting planes in order to prevent the fire from spreading to those homes.”

The fire services later updated that it had begun evacuating residents of Kibbutz Ma’ale Hahamisha in the Judean hills. A second blaze reportedly broke out on the nearby Mount Eitan.

Roads and highways in the area have been shut, including a portion of Route 1, the main highway connecting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

At 2 p.m., the Israel Railways announced that it was halting trains on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv line due to the fire.

A resident of Nataf, a moshav in the Judean hills, told Walla that he saw the flames and called the police.

“I raced toward the fire to see what was happening,” he said. “There was a large flame and smoke… when I got closer I was scared it would reach me and I quickly turned around. It very quickly became a huge fire.”

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