It is a somber day in Israel, as the country woke to hear that the blaze in the north continues.

Damage done

On a morning news broadcast, the anchor solemnly read the names, ages, hometowns, and details of the funerals of the victims of the fire who will be laid to rest today.  The damage done is staggering as reported by The Jerusalem Post:

The Carmel blaze has scorched over 12,000 acres (50,000 dunams), killed 41 people and injured scores….

The body of Elad Riven, 16, of Haifa, who was a volunteer in the Fire Service and had rushed to assist at the scene of the tragedy, was also identified….

By Saturday night, more than 17,000 people had been evacuated from 15 communities, and five million trees had been destroyed, police said.

Undoubtedly, this is the largest fire in Israel’s history.  The largest prior was in 1995 in Sha’ar Hagai which claimed only 5,000 acres (20,000 dunams) and 31 homes.

Many residents have been able to see the fire destroy large swaths of the country from their homes.

This images from this Israel’s Channel 2 news clip showing the fire over the weekend need no translation.

International assistance helping to turn the tide

Many countries have answered Israel’s call for assistance.

In total, some 30 firefighting aircraft and three helicopters – which arrived from the United States, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Britain, Russia, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Azerbaijan, Spain, Romania, Holland and Canada – were expected to operate on Mount Carmel from Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Netanyahu noted how tragedies can bring us together with our old enemies (Greece, our ancient foes in the story of Chanuka) and new antagonists (Turkey).

In the framework of the countries that are aiding us, there have been very interesting things.  First, the fact that during Chanukah, Turkish pilots speaking Turkish, and pilots speaking Greek are flying together with Israeli pilots and this is important.

On a positive note, Fire & Rescue Services Chief Shimon Roah reported that “we find ourselves in the best situation since the fire started”.  Fire & Rescue Services Spokesperson Boaz Rakia stated that there is reasonable hope that the fires would be under control by the end of Sunday, though it could take several more days for the fires to be completely extinguished.

Copycats, terrorism by arson

While the cause of the main blaze is unknown and may have been negligence, other blazes may have been set by copycats.

…[Friday] afternoon two additional fires broke out in Kiryat Bialik and Tivon. Authorities suspect both may have been the result of arson because they broke out simultaneously in different locations and because investigators found a bicycle and a wig at one site.

And, these attempts sadly continue, as reported by Israel’s Channel 1.

‏Border police thwarted an attempt Saturday night to set fire to a wadi near the tunnels road near the Gilo roadblock. Two suspects, a Palestinian and an Arab Israeli, were arrested and taken for questioning.

How can you help?

Even after the fires cool, Israel will have to invest countless manhours and shekels to rebuild homes, businesses, beautiful parks, and more.  A number of organizations have already begun campaigns to serve as channels for those who would like to provide assistance.

For those in Israel, Lev Echad (One Heart) is the organization officially designated for those looking to volunteer, though they are currently reporting that they have more than enough volunteers but can add your name to the list if you call.  Magen David Adom and others are collecting names of those willing to host families from the north.  And, Magen David Adom is always in need of blood donations.