Police detonation site: fire in Berlin's Grunewald forest - ammunition makes use more difficult

At dawn, detonations can be heard in the south-west of the capital.

Police detonation site: fire in Berlin's Grunewald forest - ammunition makes use more difficult

At dawn, detonations can be heard in the south-west of the capital. When the fire brigade received the alarm at 3.30 a.m., the emergency services did not yet suspect that a fire was blazing on and around the blast site in the popular Grunewald excursion area - and that it was spreading into the bone-dry forest.

This operation could be life-threatening, said a fire department spokesman. Ammunition is stored at the Berlin police detonation site, which experts normally render harmless there.

This is a big problem for the fire service. Because of the risk of further explosions, the emergency services were initially unable to get to the site of the blast. The fire brigade drew a blocking circle of around 1000 meters around the fire.

Extinguishing work within the restricted area

In the meantime, the fire brigade has started extinguishing the fire within the security zone. That said fire department spokesman Thomas Kirstein late Thursday afternoon. "The restricted area of ​​1,000 meters remains in place. But it is possible that we as the fire brigade can now work in certain areas up to 500 meters," said Kirstein. "That means some of the extinguishing work has already started." The extinguishing water had already been provided in advance.

Hours after the fire broke out, cracking noises could still be heard from the direction of the blasting site on Thursday morning. It was still unclear in the afternoon what the original trigger was and whether it burned first during the night or exploded. The fire was burning in an area of ​​about 1.5 hectares in the morning. That's about the size of two soccer fields.

The Berlin fire brigade assumes that the fire in Grunewald will last until Friday. "If you make a cautious assessment here and if you analyze the situation realistically, it looks like we are already expecting that the situation will not be over at least in the early hours of the morning. It will drag on overnight," said James Klein from the press service of the fire department. "But we will put out the fire," said fire department spokesman Thomas Kirstein.

With the help of a drone and a police helicopter, images from the air were able to provide orientation. Around noon, the fire brigade identified three to four embers.

A special robot should help

A remote-controlled special robot from the Bundeswehr, equipped with cameras, is to be used. Equipped with four cameras and a gripper arm, he could get closer to the area of ​​the fire, said Brigadier General Jürgen Karl Uchtmann. In this way, a clearer picture of the situation can be created. A Bundeswehr armored clearance vehicle is also to be deployed.

According to the Berlin fire brigade, firefighting helicopters from the Bundeswehr were not available because of the ongoing forest fire in Saxony. Brigadier General Uchtmann said that an operation over the munitions-contaminated area would not make sense at the moment either: the helicopter would have to fly so high that it would not be able to adequately extinguish it from the air.

Firecrackers and World War I ammunition

According to the police, around 25 tons of fireworks or World War II ammunition, among other things, were stored at the detonation site in Grunewald. As the spokesman for the Berlin police, Thilo Cablitz, said, the square is eight hectares in size and was created in 1950. Controlled demolitions are scheduled there twice a year for several days.

The police wrote on Twitter that there were no alternative areas of use in Berlin or that they could not be approved. The site is equipped with fire alarm systems, has a fire protection lane several meters wide and provides for continuous irrigation of the stored ordnance.

Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey announced that she would like to talk about the location of the blast site. "We have to think about how we will deal with this explosive site in the future and whether such a place is the right place in Berlin," said the SPD politician after a visit to Grunewald, for which she had interrupted her vacation.

Despite the ongoing fire in Grunewald, Giffey sees no need for evacuations. "There is no personal injury to complain about," said the SPD politician. "There is no need for evacuation of population."

Residential areas not at risk

Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) also saw the safety of the residents around Grunewald as guaranteed. There are no toxic objects that could pose a hazard, she said at the scene.

The nearest residential buildings are at least two kilometers away, the fire department said in the morning. A water supply was established around the safety radius of around 1,000 meters, a fire department spokesman said. Should the flames approach these areas, they could be fought quickly.

In addition, the adjacent forest areas were irrigated to make it more difficult for the flames to spread. Operations in forest fires in Brandenburg, where explosive ordnance from the time of the Second World War is lying in the ground or is suspected to be there, have been similarly difficult.

The authorities warned the population about the fire on the warning apps. Residents should keep windows and doors closed. Ventilation and air conditioning should be turned off.

Thick plumes of smoke could be seen over the fire area in the fire service footage. It can be assumed that the high level of drought in the area will affect the further course of the fire, it said.

"The forest is bone dry," said Jan Thomsen, spokesman for the Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection. The forests could not have recovered from the past drought periods.

Weather might help on Friday

The weather should initially only help the emergency services a little in fighting the fire. According to the German Weather Service (DWD), it will remain consistently dry in the region on Thursday and Friday night, but there are also no significant winds that could fan the fire further.

Showers and thunderstorms are forecast for Friday afternoon. "There can also be heavy rain," said a DWD spokesman. The amount of rain could then help the fire brigade to extinguish it.

The fire brigade urgently warned the population not to enter the forest. The area is cordoned off over a large area. Police officers stopped a number of cyclists who wanted to go through the forest to Wannsee.

traffic delays

On the Avus motorway, where cars usually line up in rush-hour traffic, there was a yawning emptiness. The area was cordoned off over a wide area. The highway is expected to remain closed throughout the day.

The regional and S-Bahn services to the west are interrupted. The S-Bahn line S7 only runs from Berlin to Grunewald, as a railway spokesman said. In regional traffic, the RE1 and RE7 lines are currently being diverted via Golm with a stop in Charlottenburg. The Potsdam Hauptbahnhof and Berlin-Wannsee stops are no longer available. The RB21 and RB22 lines are interrupted between Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin-Friedrichstrasse. Passengers can still take the S1 to Potsdam.

In long-distance traffic, only the intercity connection in the direction of Magdeburg/Hanover/Stendal/Amsterdam is affected. The IC trains are currently being diverted via Spandau. Stops in Berlin-Wannsee and Potsdam are omitted.

The Grunewald hunting lodge remained closed due to the fire in the area on Thursday. The Prussian Palaces and Gardens Foundation Berlin-Brandenburg announced in the morning that there was no danger to the hunting lodge.

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