12/02/2010 11:56 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

People and Animals Evacuated As Deadly Fire in Bioreserve Rages On (Israel)

Believed to have been started by arsonists, a deadly fire is racing out of control in UNESCO-protected Carmel Mountain. People, and animals, are being evacuated. Death toll is at 40.

Some 40 people trapped in a bus are known to have been killed and 45 more reportedly injured as a massive fire on Israel"s Mount Carmel rages on. Believed to have been started by arsonists, the fire broke out in a cedar forest around noon near Isifiya, a Druize village. Although the winter season has officially started, the rains despite the prayers, have not come, leaving the forest vulnerable to attacks.

Towns, villages and Haifa University have been evacuated, as well as a prison holding 500 prisoners. As we speak, planes and firefighters are working to contain the blaze, while specialists have been brought into the scene to help evacuate animals living at the Hai Bar Nature Reserve on Mount Carmel.

The Israeli Ministry of Health have warned residents not evacuated to stay indoors since hazardous substances in the area may be burning. And the national electric company, the IEC has asked for appliances to be switched off to reduce the load on the grid. Power lines have been damaged.

According to the Jerusalem Post the majority of those killed in an overturned bus that caught fire were prison wardens on route to evacuate prisoners from a nearby jail. About 6,000 dumans of land have been destroyed according to reports from about 6 PM Israel time (+ 7 hours EST).

This is a tragedy. Read more on the importance of the Carmel Mountain here. Keep praying for rain.