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Large fire near Petah Tikva forces evacuation of Baptist Village

Ministry teams joined together to help Israeli firefighters keep the center safe

Fire burns up to the fence of the Baptist Village. (Photo: Lech L'cha Staff)

A fire broke out near the train tracks outside Petah Tikva earlier this morning and rapidly spread towards the Baptist Village retreat center outside the city.

The Baptist Village is a Christian camp and conference center for believers in Israel. The site serves the Evangelical community, including Arab Evangelical Christens and Messianic Jewish believers. The village also hosts several ministries which serve the Evangelical community in Israel, including Netivah Youth Ministries and the Lech L'cha program.

Baptist Village Director Keith Riddle spoke to the local firefighters and were told they were not in danger.

However, within an hour of noticing the fire, it was clearly spreading towards the Baptist Village.

Netivah staff and volunteers began to run fire hoses and wet the property surrounding their offices and the Baptist Village property

The Lech L'cha group, who were in the middle of a discipleship training conference, were evacuated to a nearby park, where they were able to continue until the fire was contained.

“Really one of the most beautiful things about this was watching the teamwork between neighbors,” Riddle said of the Netivah team and village management staff.

Riddle also said the fact that the Baptist Village survived the fire without any damage was “pretty miraculous.”

“There was fire on three sides of it, but there was no damage to the Baptist Village,” Riddle said.  

Over 20 firefighting teams, assisted by planes, worked for almost three hours to contain the fire.

Along with the evacuation of the Baptist Village and several nearby houses, train service in the area was suspended.

The firefighting effort was complicated due to high winds and dry conditions. Heavy dry winds from the south fanned the flames, enabling the fire to quickly jump from field to field, which initially caused difficulty for the firefighters.

After the fire was successfully extinguished, the Baptist Village team and the Netivah team distributed frozen popsicles to the firefighters who had been working in the surrounding area.

The fire department has not yet released details about how the fire was started.

Netivah is an organization dedicated to helping believing youth develop their faith in Yeshua through youth conferences and discipleship training. The program is also designed to prepare youth for their Israeli Defense Forces service and offers retreats for believing soldiers.

Their offices are located next to the Baptist Village and they often host youth camps, conferences, and events.

Lech L'cha is a three-month discipleship training program for Israeli believers as they finish their IDF military service. The organization has offices at the Baptist Village and hosts conferences and training events.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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