Danger not yet averted: burnt Grunewald soil is 700 degrees hot

With the help of a recovery tank and remote-controlled robots, the emergency services in Berlin's Grunewald get an overview of the devastating fire at a blast site.

Danger not yet averted: burnt Grunewald soil is 700 degrees hot

With the help of a recovery tank and remote-controlled robots, the emergency services in Berlin's Grunewald get an overview of the devastating fire at a blast site. It is still too dangerous to advance further into the site. First, some areas need to be cooled down considerably.

The flames in Berlin's Grunewald have largely been extinguished - but the danger, especially for the emergency services, has not been banned. A lifting of the road and rail closures is still not in sight. A police demolition expert was able to explore the area in a recovery vehicle in the morning. In addition, remote-controlled robots from Brandenburg and Lower Saxony drove across the site. They can explore the location as well as delete it there. A federal police helicopter and a drone with thermal imaging cameras also supported the situation assessment.

The fire brigade, police and army now have a better overview of the situation at the blast site. From there, the fire had spread to the forest the day before. According to the police, the ground there was still up to 700 degrees hot in some places. In order to reduce the risk of further explosions from remains of ammunition, these areas would have to be cooled with water, said police spokesman Thilo Cablitz.

Two stored bombs from the Second World War, each weighing 250 kilograms, were torn from their holders. They did not explode, but got very hot and had to be cooled. The same applies to other areas on the large site. The fire brigade and a special company with a fire fighting vehicle are in action for this. There are no more fires there. Some storage sites for dangerous explosives have always been constantly cooled with water, nothing happened there.

The fire brigade had already imposed a safety radius of 1000 meters around the site on Thursday. Only when the cooling is successful and the danger decreases can the restricted area be reduced to a radius of 600 meters and then the motorway and the railway lines can be released again, said Cablitz. He did not give an estimate of how long that could take.

Fire chief Karsten Homrighausen emphasized: "It is due to safety." In the case of further explosions of ammunition residues, material could be thrown far. At the moment there are no more detonations. The explosives experts had identified three danger areas, where the fire brigade would specifically cool. Brigadier General Jürgen Karl Uchtmann emphasized that it was still not necessary to use helicopters to extinguish the fire. Instead, a five-kilometre-long aisle was cut through the forest with an armored recovery vehicle so that the fire engines could get to the fire. "After the end of the crisis, they can be made available to the people of Berlin as beautiful, wide hiking and biking trails."

According to initial findings, the fire broke out on the blast site on Thursday night. Tons of old grenades, ammunition and confiscated fireworks were stored in buildings on the site. Explosions could be heard, the fire spread throughout the day in the dry forest area. On Friday night, the fire brigade continued to fight the wildfires in the vicinity of the blast site, spokesman Thomas Kirstein said after the first briefing. "These fires have almost been extinguished since this morning." So far there have been no injured people.

It had burned, therefore, a total of almost 50 hectares. 150 firefighters and 500 police officers are also on duty to cordon off the area. There were also 40 employees from the Federal Agency for Technical Relief and helpers from the German Armed Forces. The freshening of the wind on Friday morning was unfavorable because there was a risk that the fire would flare up again. A few rain showers in the morning initially brought little relief.

The fire brigade emphasized that this operation was the most challenging and dangerous in post-war history for the emergency services. Nevertheless, the protection of the capital is still guaranteed. "It has worked very well so far." There were also two other larger fire extinguishing operations on Thursday and Friday morning.

The cause of the fire in Grunewald is currently unclear. "That was a big topic here today: How can this happen?" Said fire brigade spokesman Kirstein on Thursday evening on RBB. Several buildings on the site were already "in full fire" when the fire brigade arrived. The State Criminal Police Office must determine whether it was possibly arson. We also work together with the fire brigade and the demolition experts of the police.

On the question of whether the Grunewald is the right place for a blasting site, Berlin's police chief Barbara Slowik commented on the RBB info radio. The square is currently "the only permittable facility on Berlin property with 80,000 square meters." It is also far away from residential development. She is open to a discussion about another location in the capital.

Finding a place together with Brandenburg is difficult, however, Slowik pointed out. The neighboring country is working at full capacity itself and has very limited resources. Berlin's Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey announced on Thursday that she would talk to her counterpart in Brandenburg, Dietmar Woikde, about cooperation in the metropolitan region. Brandenburg's Interior Minister Michael Stübgen was open to talks with Berlin about the disposal of explosive ordnance. Brandenburg's central blasting site is located in a forest in the small town of Kummersdorf-Gut, about 50 kilometers south of Berlin.

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