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Firefighters, planes mobilized to battle flames near Jerusalem and in Upper Galilee

Firefighters were battling several large fires on Wednesday that broke out in northern Israel and just outside Jerusalem.

Some 35 teams and an aerial firefighter were dispatched to the Upper Galilee at around noon as fires broke out near Kibbutz Manara and the city of Kiryat Shmona, according to a statement issued by the Fire and Rescue Authority.

According to the Fire and Rescue Authority, the firefighting teams were concentrating their efforts on preventing the “large-scale” blazes from reaching populated areas in Manara and Kiryat Shmona.

Firefighters were also called to the site of a blaze just outside Jerusalem.

A brushfire broke out near Mesilat Zion, not far from Latrun, outside Jerusalem, the authority said in a statement.

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A firefighting helicopter was battling the flames, along with seven firefighting planes and 29 firefighting teams.

While the blaze was still not under control as of Wednesday afternoon, there was no danger of the flames reaching nearby towns, the authority said.

The cause of the fires was not immediately clear.

Fire and Rescue Authority officials seen as fires spread in the Upper Galilee in Israel, September 28, 2022. (Fire and Rescue Authority)

Last month, a large wildfire broke in the Ben Shemen forest, located between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Two days later, a forest fire outside the city of Beit Shemesh, near Jerusalem, prompted the evacuation of homes in a nearby agricultural community.

Israel experiences long, hot and dry summers, with conditions ripe for wildfires. Large blazes broke out in 1989, 1995, 2010, 2015, 2019 and 2021. Some of those blazes are suspected to have been sparked by arson or negligence.

In Europe, a summer heatwave triggered devastating forest fires across southwest Europe during July, including in France, Portugal, Spain and Greece, forcing mass evacuations in several areas.