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Top Haifa cop the latest victim of Carmel fire

JTA

December 6, 2010 | 9:40 am

The number of Israelis killed in a massive fire in the Carmel Forest rose to 42 with the death of Haifa Police Chief Ahuva Tomer.

Tomer, the the police chief since March 2009 and the highest-ranking female officer in the Israel Police, died Monday.

She was burned over 90 percent of her body last week after trying to assist prison guard cadets riding in a bus that caught fire while on its way to evacuate a prison in the path of the blaze. Most of the bus passengers and three volunteer rescuers died in the fire in northern Israel.

Also Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Finance Ministry to provide nearly $700 immediately to each member of families who will be prevented from returning to their damaged homes for at least the next month.

The funds are designated for basic, emergency necessities such as clothing and shoes, and school supplies.

The allocation came during a special Knesset hearing on the fire and its consequences, which opened with a moment of silence.

Meanwhile, two teenage brothers from the Druze village of Ussfiya arrested on suspicion of negligence in starting the fire and ordered held until midweek by a Haifa court were released to house arrest on Monday.

The teens are accused of lighting a bonfire near their home that sparked the blaze, though Ussfiya residents claim that a fire in a poorly maintained garbage dump near the village was the culprit.

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