Saxony: Government announces concepts against forest fires

The fire is out, but the debate about more protection against forest fires has flared up again.

Saxony: Government announces concepts against forest fires

The fire is out, but the debate about more protection against forest fires has flared up again. What lessons is Saxony drawing from the devastating forest fires of the past few weeks? The government wants to invest in concepts and technology.

Dresden (dpa / sn) - As a consequence of the recent forest fires, Saxony's government has announced protection concepts. Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU) spoke on Tuesday after the cabinet meeting of a revision of the existing "strategic forest fire concept" and also wants to involve external experts. A commission might be convened like after the floods of 2002 and 2013.

Secretary of State for the Environment Gisela Reetz referred to a forest fire concept for the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, which is to be drawn up with the district and the fire and disaster protection authorities. According to the ministry, the fire in the Saxon Switzerland National Park, which spread over an area of ​​150 hectares and kept the fire brigades in suspense for weeks, is to be evaluated with the involvement of scientists.

"It is also about the extent to which fire processes in the protected area were influenced by dead wood and whether there are significant differences to fires in managed forests," it said. Furthermore, a joint communication strategy to educate the population about the dangers of forest fires and the correct behavior in the forest to avoid fires is to be developed under the responsibility of the departments for internal affairs and the environment.

"This fire has had no role model so far. With the support of the Bundeswehr, THW, Sachsenforst and the National Park Administration, the firefighters have often made decisions based on the situation and have performed enormously," said the Greens politician. It is clear that the climate crisis favors forest fires. In particular, the embers and their spread in the ground would have made the extinguishing work massively difficult. Reetz assumed that the forest in the affected area would not be reforested and would recover naturally.

"Now we have to see in the next few months whether deadwood also played a significant role in the course of the fire and if so, what role it was," said Reetz. You always have to remember that this is a national park and a European protected area. The national park status is not up for debate. One shouldn't jump to conclusions: "Where it says national park, there must also be a national park inside."

According to Schuster and Reetz, better firefighting equipment is needed. The State Secretary mentioned, among other things, folding pools for water, drones, thermal imaging cameras and mobile technology for transporting material. "We would also like to add all of this to the 23/24 double budget." They also want to increase the staff at Sachsenforst and especially at the National Park Guard. It won't work with machines alone.

Schuster estimated the costs of the fire in Saxon Switzerland alone at ten to eleven million euros. With the forest fires in Arzberg and in the Gohrischheide, you probably come up with costs of 15 million euros. 40 emergency services were injured - fortunately only slightly with bruises or strains. Dehydration or wasp stings also occurred. Up to 850 emergency services were involved in fighting the fire in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains - supported by up to 13 firefighting helicopters and heavy equipment, it said.

According to Schuster, the classic fire brigade is not fully prepared for such a scenario - compared to house fires, completely different amounts of water would be required for long-lasting forest fires. Expensive special technology is needed and will be coordinated with Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. He wants to propose to the state parliament an application totaling around 30 million euros for the procurement of technology. Otherwise you will be dependent on help from others in the future.

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