Record-breaking heat wave sparks fires across Israel

Record-breaking heat wave sparks fires across Israel

A fierce heatwave accompanied by strong and dusty winds is spreading across Israel. According to media reports, more than 370 people were treated for heat-related conditions, including fainting, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke on May 14 and 15, 2016.

Eilat in the South hit 46.1 °C (115 °F) on May 15, breaking a May 1980 record of 45.2 °C (113.4 °F). Jerusalem measured 37 °C (98.6 °F) during the day and was expected to drop to only 29 °C (82.4 °F) at night. Tel Aviv recorded 38.8 °C (102 °F) during the day and was to drop to 25 °C (77 °F) at night. On May 16, Jerusalem recorded 38 °C (100 °F).

Dozens of fires broke out, including several in the Jerusalem area, central Israel and in the North. Residents have been evacuated from their homes as large firefighting forces battled with a major forest fire near Moshav Luzit south of Beit Shemesh.

A fire that broke out on the afternoon of May 16 near the Sakharov Gardens intersection on Route 1 in Jerusalem damaged several warehouses in the Givat Shaul wholesale market compound, which is close to a residential area.A nearby synagogue was evacuated and residents were told to keep their windows shut because some of the market compound's roofs are made of asbestos, and police feared hazardous dust might be dispersed, the Haaretz reported.

The country issued an order barring the lighting of fires, including barbecues, from 09:00 to 19:00. Those caught violating the order could be fined up to 70 000 NIS (~1 800 USD) or face up to six months in prison.

Although the heatwave is expected to break on May 17, the temperatures will remain above normal, meteorologists warned

Featured image: A firefighter battles a blaze in Kfar Uriah in the Beit Shemesh, May 16, 2016. Credit: Jerusalem firefighters

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