Multiple firefighting squads are battling out-of-control forest fires outside of Jerusalem on Wednesday, due to the hot and dry June weather combined with strong winds.

Ground crews are working to contain the spread with the support of firefighting aircraft from above near Har Haruach, Neve Ilan, Kibbutz Ma’aleh HaHamisha, Abu Ghosh and other locations.

Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish-Jewish National Fund called the fire at Ma’aleh HaHamisha a “major event.”

Among those who have joined the effort is Gidi Bashan, a KKL-JNF forester, who said “this is a huge fire event—very unfortunate and difficult to gain control over.”

The location, Har Haruach (“Wind Mountain”), is a national park and a joint KKL-JNF forest—one of the oldest forests in Israel, planted almost 100 years ago by the pioneers of Neve Ilan and Ma’aleh HaHamisha. Most of it burned away with the fires still continuing.

Bashan added that “hundreds of acres of forest have been burned away, perhaps even more. The trees we’ve lost were 100-year-old pines and lots of natural woodlands that have developed throughout the years.”

JNS

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