EIN HOD, Israel – Negligence, not arson, appears to have caused the worst forest fire in Israel’s history, police said Saturday as firefighters from around the world worked to quell the deadly blaze for a third consecutive day.
Two people were arrested in connection with the fire.
Israel Radio, citing unidentified police officials, said the blaze likely was started by a family that failed to extinguish a picnic fire.
The blaze, which broke out Thursday, tore through the hilly pine Carmel Forest that clings to the mountain ridge above the northern city of Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city.
The blaze has killed 41 people – most of them prison guards whose bus was engulfed by flames as they rushed to evacuate a prison. More than 17,000 people have been displaced.