A firefighting plane flies over a large forest fire near the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem on Sunday
A forest fire that prompted the evacuation of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum was likely started accidentally by a man burning rubbish in his backyard, Jerusalem police said on Monday. © Ahmad Gharabli - AFP
A firefighting plane flies over a large forest fire near the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem on Sunday
AFP
Last updated: July 19, 2011

Fire near Holocaust museum was accident

A forest fire that prompted the evacuation of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum was likely started accidentally by a man burning rubbish in his backyard, Jerusalem police said on Monday.

The fire spread rapidly on Sunday afternoon in the forest on the outskirts of Jerusalem, forcing the evacuation of the famed museum as the flames neared.

Police initially said they suspected the fire was started by arsonists because it appeared to have started in three separate places.

But police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Monday that a 50-year-old resident of one of the collective communities, known as moshavim, near Jerusalem was believed to have started the fire accidently.

"There is a man who is being questioned who apparently lived in one of the moshavim nearby and he is suspected of causing the fire yesterday accidentally when he was burning some trash in the back of his home," Rosenfeld told AFP.

"The fire got out of control and then jumped and they think that's how it got started," he said.

Six people were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation on Sunday afternoon as thick grey smoke billowed up through the forested hills on Jerusalem's southwestern flank.

Firefighters on the ground and in the air were able to bring the blaze under control by early Sunday evening, preventing the fire from reaching Yad Vashem, where several staff members had stayed behind to protect museum artefacts.

Yad Vashem is the main museum in Israel commemorating the six million Jews killed by the Nazi regime during World War II.

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