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Record heat starting major wildfires across Israel

By
Ed Adamczyk
An Isreli firefighter takes a break while battling flames near the Gaza border. High temperatures from an enduring heat wave sparked brush fires along the border and blazes in three of Israel's largest forests. Photo courtesy Friends of Israel Fire Fighters/Facebook
An Isreli firefighter takes a break while battling flames near the Gaza border. High temperatures from an enduring heat wave sparked brush fires along the border and blazes in three of Israel's largest forests. Photo courtesy Friends of Israel Fire Fighters/Facebook

July 25 (UPI) -- Israeli firefighters worked Wednesday to put out fires along the border with Gaza, as the country dealt with a record-breaking heat wave.

Officials said one fire was sparked by an incendiary balloon and the rest were brush fires ignited by the intense heat.

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The largest blaze is burning near Kibbutz Re'im, where seven firefighting crews and four planes are involved in the fire, the Times of Israel reported. Fires are also burning in the northern Ahihud Forest, the central Horshim Forest and the southern Churchill Forest.

Another fire, in the West Bank settlement of Karmei Tzur, was started by a barrage of Molotov cocktails thrown at a settlement security fence, the Israeli army said. Flames ultimately spread to nearby homes and forced residents to evacuate.

The fires occurred during a major a heat wave.

The Red Sea resort city of Eliat recorded a temperature of 109 degrees Wednesday, the Israel Meteorological Service said. A high temperature of 105 degrees in Gaza is the highest ever recorded for July.

The Israel Electric Corp. said Wednesday the heat has been accompanied by a surge to record electricity usage.

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Israel's Health Ministry warned the elderly and those with chronic illnesses to stay out of the sun, and the public to refrain from unnecessary physical activity until the temperatures cool.

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