Police chief dies after forest fire

Police chief dies after forest fire

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Forest fires in Israel have claimed 42 lives (AP)

Israel’s top policewoman, who had clung to life for four days after her patrol car was trapped in a burning Israel forest, has died.

Ahuva Tomer was driving behind a bus of prison guards rushing to evacuate a nearby jail last week when both the bus and her vehicle were engulfed in flames.

Her death raises the number of people killed by the wildfire to 42.

Ms Tomer headed the police department in Haifa, Israel’s third-largest city.

The 52-year-old became a symbol of the fire’s victims after a TV reporter interviewed her, just minutes before she set out on what became her last mission.

Israel declared the blaze under control, and police said only one isolated fire remained.

The fire which killed Soviet-born Ms Tomer, a Deputy Commander, has generated much soul-searching in Israel about the state of the country’s leadership, because firefighters had long warned that the neglected state of their operation was a recipe for disaster.

Hours after the blaze broke out on Thursday, fire crews ran out of firefighting chemicals. And firefighters in Israel – a country renowned for its sophisticated air force – did not have a single firefighting plane in their possession.

Israel was forced to appeal to other countries to send planes and material to put out the raging blaze.

Israel’s vulnerability prompted critics to ask whether the nation’s leaders could cope with far more serious challenges, like rocket attacks from Iranian-backed militants or a nuclear-armed Iran.

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