Part 2: Mt. Carmel: The site of the worst fire in modern Israel’s history…

The worst disaster…

On Dec, 2, 2010 Israel suffered the worst fire disaster in it’s history. Over 42 people were killed in the fire. Most of them were rescuers trapped in a bus heading to evacuate prisoners from the prison in that area. The fire broke out in a Pine and Cedar Forest on Mt. Carmel and quickly spread. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but a long drought had left unusually dry conditions in the Carmel Forest, so that the fire spread extremely quickly.

Burned bark on cedar tree

 

Mt. Carmel…

We drove up Mt. Carmel to observe the devastation. We were not alone. Others, cameras in hand, were there to record this horrible scene.

Mt Carmel forest fire

 

Kibbutz Beit Oren…

A kibbutz  is a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture. Today most of them have become privatized and act like a cooperative or community village.

Kibbutz Beit Oren was founded in 1939 by immigrants from Poland and Russia, part of the Hebrew Socialist Adolescence movement.

Prior to Israel’s indepedence, the kibbutz served the Haganah (the underground army of the Jewish settlers) as a Palmach (the elite fighting force in the Haganah) base for underground activities against the British. On  October 9, 1945, a Palmach unit set out from Beit Oren to free 208 illegal immigrants detained at the Atlit detainee camp.  After overcoming the guards, the freed immigrants were led past Beit Oren to Kibbutz Yagur where they were hidden from the British. The attack was the first anti-British action undertaken by the Palmach.

The fire…

By 2010, Beit Oren had about 200 members. On December 2, 2010, it suffered extensive damage. Parts of the kibbutz were destroyed by the fire, though the inhabitants had been evacuated to safety.

Desolation Row...

The woodworking shop…

I was shooting inside the remains of the woodworking shop where I met a gentleman who told me that he was the first child to be born on the kibbutz. He shared with me many stories about life in Beit Oren. The band saw (below) had been saved from another fire in 1951 and came through unscathed. It was working until the 2010 fire but is now destroyed.

 

Next-Tel Aviv and the Bauhaus movement…

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