Israeli forest fire extinguished: police


JERUSALEM — A forest fire that killed 41 people in northern Israel’s Carmel region has been extinguished, Israeli police said on Monday.

Efforts to beat down the blaze, which erupted on Thursday, were helped by overnight rains, a rarity in a parched winter for Israel. Two people suspected of setting the fire by accident have been arrested on charges of criminal negligence.

“All of the fires were officially extinguished as of midnight,” police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.

Israeli media, which assessed the cost of the damage at around 2 billion shekels (US$550 million), said most of the foreign firefighters who had answered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appeal for help would return home later on Monday.

The disaster prompted recrimination within Netanyahu’s coalition government and public calls for the resignation of Interior Minister Eli Yishai, one of its most powerful partners.

The Israeli fire brigade said it would take several days to confirm evacuated areas of the Carmel mountain range were safe. The blaze was stopped before it could threaten the nearby port city of Haifa, a major commercial hub.