I was calmly eating a baked potato with my kids yesterday afternoon when all of a sudden Jojo jumped up and yelled “mummy mummy there’s smoke,” we’re used to people burning rubbish here so I didn’t register immediately.
But I soon noticed that the smoke was creeping up the cliff right up to the back of our house. So I tried to call Husband. Awful moment of panic as I realised that I couldn’t find my mobile having dumped it somewhere when I rushed in. Then I tried our landline. But that didn’t work properly. Stiff buttons. Couldn’t dial. Feeling panicked I eventually grabbed the baby and all 5 of us ran outside into the street, with my 6 year old trailing after us. He has a broken arm and was struggling with his sandals.
Half my street were standing there watching. The emergency services were on their way but they were finding it difficult to get into the valley so members of our yeshuv were down there with fire extinguishers and hoses. The neighbours ushered me back into my house telling me the smoke was bad for the baby and ordering me to turn off my gas bottles. Thank you to the kind man who saw my face and kindly did that job. A neighbour across the road invited me in but as she wasn’t so much further away I didn’t see the point.
Only when I got back to my house did I realise I had run outside with my bra hanging out. One of the occupational hazards of breastfeeding i’m afraid. Back inside there was not much to do but watch the flames from our kitchen and clear up from lunch. Husband eventually came home and ran down to help. I put the baby down for his nap then ran outside with hose to spray the side of the cliff. This would give our house some protection if the flames came nearer.
We waited to see if we had to evacuate. Thankfully we didn’t have to. Realising we were in a state of shock I made hot chocolates for us all and played the piano for the kids.
They got it under control but it did regenerate after a few hours. Husband and I kept a watchful eye from our bedroom balcony which is currently the highest viewpoint in our yeshuv. Whilst keeping an eye on Whatsapp for updates I saw a message from a neighbour saying “look on the other mountain”
I went to the other side of my salon and I saw the fire at the top of this post. Just north of Karmiel, an entire mountain surrounded by an orange ring . The flames were flying up and up, spurred on by the strong winds. I had the same strange feeling I had on 9/11 when I watched the second plane fly into the towers. Total disbelief in what I was seeing.
There is NO WAY this was an accident. Someone is clearly taking advantage of the gale-force winds we have had since last weekend. The fires burned throughout the night and at the time of writing my children are currently standing by the window watching planes flying over to put them out. Several houses in Har Halutz were damaged and Nahf was also evacuated.
I wont dramatise this anymore, I believe it speaks for itself. If you want more gory details you know where to get them. Suffice to say it’s the most cowardly form of terrorism I have ever seen. I’m just thankful I live on a yeshuv with a good emergency committee.
On a lighter note, the winds have provided some amusing scenarios.
The other day I went out with my baby sling on to water my plants and realized it was futile. The wind just blew the water back at me and it was a struggle to get us back inside. I decided not to venture out there but a couple of hours later the gas man came so I went round with him to the gas bottles. Suddenly a huge gust of wind came and LIFTED ME UP to the extent that the gas man had to HOLD ME DOWN.
Clinging to the side of my house, my first thought was, “this must look like a cartoon”. My second thought was “must get inside.” I just about managed this.
The man was still laughing at me when he came in to get his cheque. “Perhaps stay indoors lady” he instructed me in me in his thick Arab accent. Lucky for me he was a big burly bloke. Otherwise I might have been blown halfway to Sachnin.