Raging fires forced evacuation of several small towns in central Israel on Thursday. The blazes affected wooded areas between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with firefighter crews and airplane tankers trying to push back the flames. Some 22 people have been reportedly hospitalized for smoke inhalation.
The fires have been triggered by unusually high temperatures that surged to 37.5 degrees Celsius (99.5 F) near Jerusalem and even 43.5 degrees Celsius (110.3 F) outside Tel Aviv, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
Several towns were ravaged by the blaze, which destroyed dozens of homes and other property. According to local media, the 250-member community of Mevo Modiim was affected the most and was effectively burned down to the ground.
Though the wildfires were largely under control by late Thursday, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to contact “friendly” countries to check for potential assistance. While an exact list of such countries is unknown, Israeli embassy in Moscow has confirmed it addressed Russia as well.
The weather is expected to stay hot, with temperatures surpassing 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 F) all across the country on Friday.