My First Wildfire

I first started hearing the planes at about 1:00 p.m. Israel time yesterday, so loud that I figured they were fighter jets which so often pass through the skies here. A look out the window, though, showed me not large grey warcraft but a couple of yellow planes so small I thought they must be propeller driven, but their loud roar sounded like jet engines. Still, I thought they must be playing around, as small planes often do.

A yellow plane flies over Tiberias, Israel

I couldn't believe how loud this little plane was

By 3:30 I was at my friend’s apartment just upstairs from mine when the little yellow planes began roaring directly past his third floor patio window. After a few fly by’s, we looked outside to see what was up. Fire! The grassy area just below our complex was a wall of deep black smoke, with plumes of fire popping out.

It’s nothing. Just a fire. They happen every year, my friend said. Maybe to you they happen every year. But I have never seen a wildfire in my life. We ran outside to take some photos.

Walking into the fire on a hilltop in northern Israel

Walking into the fire

A single yellow plane was now roaring repeatedly over our area, not dropping water on the blaze but apparently just monitoring it. I learned that the other plane had flown off to the area where the fire had started earlier before I even realized there was a fire. Why fly for hours over a wildfire? My friend said although there are these outbreaks every year, he’s never seen planes flying all around them. It must have been in response to the horrific blaze on December 2, 2010 on the other side of the country in Carmel, a stunningly deadly fire which killed 44 people. These planes which I had thought were playing around were actually helping to ensure that this fire didn’t rip out of control. And it didn’t. Just a couple of hours later the smoke cleared. This morning, though, while I sat on a cliff overlooking the Sea of Galilee and sipping coffee, a couple areas on the cliff were still smoldering.

A wildfire in Tiberias, Israel

I've never been this close to a fire before

I think the video I shot is pretty dramatic. Of course, I’ve never seen another wildfire in person, though, and I know this was nothing compared to others. It was burning away just about ten metres from my apartment, though. If nothing else, I’d say it was a close call.

How about you? Have you ever seen a wildfire or been in the midst of any other natural catastrophe? Please tell me about it in the comments.

12 Comments Post a Comment
  1. yb says:

    Sabina to the ‘New York Times’!

  2. Sabina says:

    Ha – yeah, if only they weren’t so anti-Israel

  3. yb says:

    you have a good photographer
    Work together

  4. Wow, glad you’re ok. I was once snowboarding in New Zealand and the mountain/volcano erupted! Everyone was ok, it was pretty awesome though.

  5. Sabina says:

    Hmmm, that might be a good idea ;)

  6. I have never experienced a wildfire–seems frightening. Have experienced North Dakota floods–it’s amazing how destructive water can be.

  7. Sabina says:

    Hi, Roy – oh, my gosh I would love that!! That must have been a thoroughly awesome sight! I hope you have tons of photos.

  8. Gray says:

    Yikes! That was a close call. Too close for comfort, in my opinion. Good video, though.

  9. Sabina says:

    Very, very close. Even yesterday I couldn’t hike on the mountain I always hike on because it was still on fire. Maybe today I’ll be able to.

  10. Sabina says:

    I remember hearing about those North Dakota floods. It is amazing how so much of the world is being affected by natural disasters nowadays.

  11. Steve says:

    I’ve never experienced wildfires like that before. That’s weird to think that they happen every year with such regularity.

    The closest thing I’ve had happen was waking up one morning a few months ago and seeing a giant ball of fire spewing out of a street a short distance from my house. Apparently a gas main exploded and fire was constantly spouting from it up to 20 feet into the air. The police came by and I had to evacuate my house for several hours. But they eventually fixed it and I got to go back home.

  12. Sabina says:

    Steve, that must have been quite a sight. I hope you got photos. And it doesn’t rain here in the summer, or much at all ever, actually. I think this is why the fires occur every year.

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