3,700 Acres Consumed By Israeli Wildfire

(CNN)

A wildfire raging across northern Israel has killed at least 41 people and injured 17 more, Israel Police said Friday.

The Israeli Cabinet was meeting Friday in Tel Aviv to formulate a response.

Shifting winds have made the inferno harder to control as flames neared a neighborhood in Haifa and the Hai Bar nature reserve, according to police.

Smoke blanketed Haifa, Israeli's third-largest city, Friday. It was not clear how the 3,700-acre fire started, but police were investigating if the blaze started in an illegal dumping ground.

More than 15,000 people have been evacuated from villages and towns in the area as authorities scrambled firefighting equipment, emergency officials said.

Fire-fighting aircraft pledged by various countries began to arrive in Israel Friday morning as more offers of help from around the world came in.

Several nations, including Turkey, were sending firefighting planes, Israel's Foreign Ministry said. Relations between Turkey and Israel have been tense since last spring, when Israeli commandos boarded a Turkish ship carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza, killing nine people.