Israeli firefighters battle blaze near Jerusalem for 3rd day

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A man films wildfires burning for the second day near Shoresh, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. Israel Fire and Rescue service said in a statement that 45 firefighting teams accompanied by eight planes were working to contain five fires in the forested hills west of the city. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli firefighters worked for a third consecutive day on Tuesday to contain a wildfire that has consumed a large swath of forest west of Jerusalem and threatened several communities.

Israel Fire and Rescue Service said that 110 firefighting teams accompanied by eight aircraft were working to combat the fire that has consumed around 20 square kilometers (7.7 square miles) of land, making it one of the largest wildfires in the country’s history.

On Monday Israel asked regional ally Greece for assistance in fighting the fire, and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said he was also reaching out to Cyprus, Italy and France for possible assistance.

Hot, dry weather and short winters in recent years have left the wooded hills near Jerusalem especially prone to wildfires. The blaze that began Sunday has cloaked Jerusalem in a pall of thick black smoke.

Fire and Rescue chief Dedi Simchi said investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire.

“The fire broke out as a result of human actions, whether it’s negligence or rashness or malice or arson, we don’t know,” he told reporters on Monday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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