A major fire broke out after an explosion in a police ammunition depot in Berlin’s Grunewald forest. The Berlin fire brigade is on site in a large-scale operation. The fire in west Berlin burned uncontrollably for hours over an area of 1.5 hectares, around 15,000 square meters. This is approximately the size of two football fields.
The Berlin fire brigade is on site with over 100 emergency services to contain the fire
water cannon in action
In the meantime, emergency services have started to extinguish the fire with water cannons in two places, as a fire department spokesman said. A robot from the Bundeswehr drives on the site, and a police helicopter and a drone with thermal imaging cameras are also used to assess the situation. New extinguishing measures should then be decided later. According to the spokesman, fire-fighting helicopters are not available. These would be needed to fight the forest fire in Saxon Switzerland.
Further explosions and flying debris initially prevented the fire brigade from taking systematic action against the fire. The emergency services could only approach the flames from a distance of 1,000 meters.
“The situation is dangerous,” Thomas Kirstein of the fire department told reporters, urging residents to stay away from the forest.
A police spokesman assesses the operation as dangerous for the firefighters
Houses are not directly threatened by the fire. However, authorities warned that the drought and exceptional heat could allow the fire to spread.
Cause of fire still unknown
“The forest is bone dry,” said Jan Thomsen, spokesman for the Berlin Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection. When asked how useful a blasting site in the forest was at all, he said: “We will deal with the safety issues once the cause of the fire has been clarified.”
The fire covers an area the size of about two football fields
Ammunition and weapons seized by the Berlin Police Weapons Disposal Unit are usually stored on the site and blown up in a controlled manner. A police spokesman said it was unclear what caused the explosion. Local residents reported that the detonation could be heard miles away.
Limited transportation options
Deutsche Bahn said the fire had an impact on local and long-distance traffic. Part of the highway between Spanish Allee and Hüttenweg is blocked in both directions, as are two smaller roads, according to the local traffic authorities. The fire service said it was likely the section of road known as AVUS would remain closed for the remainder of Thursday.
The 3,000-hectare Grunewald is one of Berlin’s largest green spaces, starting on the western outskirts of the capital and stretching all the way to Potsdam.
los/se (dpa, epd, AFP, Reuters)