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Hot weather, winds cause unusually high number of wildfires in Israel

  |   April 28, 2013 at 3:25 PM
JERUSALEM, April 28 (UPI) -- Israeli officials asked people to refrain from lighting bonfires on a Jewish holiday Sunday because of an unusual number of recent wildfires.

For a second day in a row Sunday, heavy winds and unseasonably hot temperatures had fire crews rushing to battle fires, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Seven guards, an inmate and three firefighters were slightly injured by smoke inhalation after a fire at a woodworking factory got out of control at the compound at the Maasiyahu prison in central Israel.

Police and dozens of fire teams rushed to combat the fire, which spread to the grounds of the prison itself. In the mid-afternoon, Shfela police said the fire was under control and said prisoners would not be evacuated.

Other fires occurred in the northern and southern districts of Israel, most of them due to the weather, the Post reported.

Since Saturday fire teams have responded to 550 calls across the country, more than five times the usual for a 24-hour period, said Yoram Levy, a National Fire Service spokesperson.

Levy said although the two most dangerous fires were not weather-related, people should avoid lighting bonfires in celebration of the holiday of Lag B'Omer, which began Saturday evening.

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