TEL AVIV (Jul. 10)
Police are investigating the possibility of arson in a huge forest fire that destroyed parks and woodlands on the slopes of Mt. Cormel today in the midst of a blistering heat wave which sent temperatures soaring well over the 100 degree mark. At one point Kibbutz Nir Etzion, south of Haifa, was threatened and buses were marshaled to evacuate the population. But a sudden shift in the wind diverted the blaze and made evacuation unnecessary.
Arson is suspected despite the intensely hot weather because of the unusually large number of forest fires in the Carmel region in recent weeks. Tens of thousands of trees and bushes have been destroyed in what may have been a deliberate act.
The heat wave, which began Friday, was at its peak today. The thermometers reached 107 degrees in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and 115-118 degrees at Eilat and Sharm el-Sheikh. Similar temperatures were recorded at Tiberias and in the Jordan Valley. No relief is in sight until tomorrow when temperatures are expected to drop gradually, according to the weather bureau.