Major fire near Israel Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem under control
A major fire in a forest near Jerusalem Sunday advanced within metres of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, but fire service officials were able to bring it under control, a police spokesman said, dpa reported.
There were three smaller fires, but those flames were under control, said spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. The fire reached a few hundred metres away from the memorial and Mount Herzl.
Six people suffered smoke inhalation, Rosenfeld said. The memorial building was not in danger and the employees and visitors were safely evacuated, he added.
Yad Vashem is Israel's most important Holocaust memorial, and stores irreplaceable mementos. It was established in 1953 as the world centre for documentation, research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust.
Hundreds of policemen and firemen were on the scene to contain the fire, said Rosenfeld, in addition to fire-fighting planes and a police helicopter.
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. The scorching temperatures of the Israeli summer could likely have set it off.
Jerusalem District commander Niso Shaham told a press conference that because the fire broke out in three places, there would be an investigation to determine if it was arson, Haaretz reported online.
Esti Yaari, a spokeswoman for the museum, said she thanked God that there was no damage to Yad Vashem from the fire. While there was still a lot of smoke in the vicinity, she said memorial employees stayed on to assist the emergency teams.