Israel battles massive blaze in the north

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The Independent Online

Israeli firefighters say a massive blaze in the country's north has caused the evacuation of hundreds of residents and a prison.

Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Yoram Levy says thousands of acres of forest have gone up in smoke. He says at least 25 firefighting squads and four planes are still tackling the flames.

The Israeli Prison Service evacuated 500 Palestinian inmates from an area prison. A neighbouring kibbutz was emptied, and about 30 families left from the Druse Arab town of Issafiya.

Levy says fires damaged electricity lines, and some local roads were closed for safety.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. But Israel had an exceptionally hot summer this year and has experienced little rain since.