| 21.1°C Dublin

Wartime ammo risk as wildfire spreads near Berlin

More than 500 people had to leave their homes as three villages were evacuated.

Close

Firefighters battle a wildfire (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

Firefighters battle a wildfire (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

Firefighters battle a wildfire (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP)

A wildfire the size of more than 500 football pitches is spreading south west of the German capital, leading to the evacuation of three villages.

Efforts to extinguish the flames were complicated by Second World War ammunition buried in the forests around Berlin which could explode in the fire.

“The ammunition is very dangerous, because one cannot step on the ground and therefore one cannot get close to the fire,” Brandenburg governor Dietmar Woidke told reporters.

Close

Firefighters battle a wildfire near the village of Klausdorf (Patrick Pleul/dpa/AP)

Firefighters battle a wildfire near the village of Klausdorf (Patrick Pleul/dpa/AP)

Firefighters battle a wildfire near the village of Klausdorf (Patrick Pleul/dpa/AP)

More than 500 people had to leave their homes on Thursday night as a result of the fire in the Treuenbrietzen region, 30 miles outside Berlin.

Treuenbrietzen is in the eastern German state of Brandenburg.

“The fire continues to be a big threat,” Mr Woidke said. “But we will do everything to protect people’s property.”

Local lawmaker Christian Stein said there had already been several detonations due to the ammunition, and firefighters were not allowed to enter some areas.

Close

A police water cannon sprays water into a forest near Treuenbrietzen (Michael Kappeler/dpa/AP)

A police water cannon sprays water into a forest near Treuenbrietzen (Michael Kappeler/dpa/AP)

A police water cannon sprays water into a forest near Treuenbrietzen (Michael Kappeler/dpa/AP)

Authorities are trying to douse the flames in those areas with firefighting helicopters and water cannons.

The fire started on Thursday afternoon and spread quickly through the dry pine forests. By the evening, the authorities had evacuated the villages of Frohnsdorf, Klausdorf and Tiefenbrunnen.

“Something like that, we didn’t even experience during the war,” 76-year-old Anita Biedermann said as police told her to grab her jacket, ID and important medication from her home before taking her to a nearby gym for the night.

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

Overnight, winds blew the smoke to Berlin, where people in some neighbourhoods were asked to keep their windows closed. Emergency services received calls from concerned Berliners who were woken by the strong smell of smoke.

I hope the weather will play along and the winds won't increase again. We are yearning for rainRaimund Engel

More than 600 firefighters and soldiers were brought in to battle the fire. They were trying to cut trees in the forests to prevent the fire from spreading further.

Several roads were closed and local train operators stopped services in the area close to the fire.

Germany has seen a long hot summer with almost no rain, and large parts of the country are on high alert regarding possible wildfires.

Raimund Engel, who is in charge of forests in the state of Brandenburg, said 400 wildfires have already been reported this year.

“I hope the weather will play along and the winds won’t increase again,” he said. “We are yearning for rain.”


Most Watched





Privacy