Series of explosions impede attempts to fight Berlin forest fire
The flames have started to spread from the Grunewald forest, west of the capital city, and have already decimated over 15,000 square meters of land.
A fire has broke out today in a forest adjacent to Berlin's Grunewald forest after a police ammunition depot exploded, the fire brigade says.
Firefighters are still attempting to fully control the fire which has already decimated an area of roughly 1.5 hectares.
Firefighters were unable to tackle the blaze directly due to the danger of further blasts, with emergency services setting up a 1,000-metre (3,280-foot) safety zone around the site.
Explosions were heard throughout the entire morning at regular intervals.
"The fire is now well under control," said a spokesman from the fire department. "But the situation is totally unusual because we're dealing with war munitions" on the site, which hinders firefighting services from deploying.
Significant resources have been deployed, with 140 firefighters mobilized, along with equipment from the German army with at least one tank to recover explosives, an armored robotic deminer, drones, and police helicopters deployed to monitor the area.
Firefighters are bringing in water from a nearby river and lake to extinguish the flames.
A safety zone of about one km surrounding the storage location of the ammunition depot has been set up.
The depot, which is located in Grunewald, is responsible for carrying out controlled explosions of devices that are entrusted to it.
This includes fireworks, weapons, and old military supplies dating back from World War II ordnance. These are regularly dug up during construction works and dumped at the facility for the depot to diffuse.
Munitions dating back to World War II are not uncommon finds in Germany.
The SmithsonianMag reported that 70 years later, more than 2,000 tons of unexploded munitions are uncovered on German soil every year.
It is assumed that the extreme dryness in the area will influence the further course of the fire.
The extreme heat expected on Thursday will be especially hard on the emergency services.
Berlin is rarely ever hit by forest fires, even though its 29,000 hectares of forests make it one of the greenest cities in the world.
Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, as well as parts of eastern Germany have for days been battling forest fires.
Temperatures are expected to climb as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) across parts of Germany on Thursday. In Berlin, they are predicted to reach 38°C.
Heavy thunderstorms are then due to sweep into the country from the west on Friday, the German weather service said.
A cold front is predicted to bring temperatures down by more than 10C overnight in western Germany, falling to around 20-25C on Friday.
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