Fire triggered by ammo dump explosions spreads in Berlin city forest

4 August 2022, 15:14

Fire engines and ambulances stand on Kronprinzessinnen Road at the Grunewald forest in Berlin, Germany
Germany Berlin Fire. Picture: PA

Around 100 firefighters were battling the blaze in the German capital’s Grunewald forest in the west of the city, German news agency dpa reported.

A large fire triggered by explosions at an ammunition dump is raging in a major Berlin urban forest on one of the German capital’s hottest days of the year.

A huge cloud of grey smoke hung over the city’s western districts and residents were asked to keep windows and doors shut.

A major highway was closed and a train service interrupted, but authorities said no homes or inhabitants were under direct threat.

More than 100 firefighters, dozens of soldiers and police officers were battling the blaze in the Grunewald forest in west Berlin.

Army tanks cut corridors into the forest to contain the fire and allow firefighters to get closer to the flames.

Germany Berlin Fire
Smoke rises in Berlin’s Grunewald forest (Kay Nietfeld/dpa/AP)

The army also sent in a remote-controlled robot with four cameras and a grappler to detect and eliminate ordnance.

Water cannons were also on the scene and firefighters drew water from the nearby Havel river to extinguish the flames.

“The situation is dangerous,” Thomas Kirstein from the Berlin fire department told reporters.

Massive explosions were heard in the morning from the site where old ammunition from the Second World War, fireworks and explosive ordnance is stored and controlled explosions are carried out.

Mr Kirstein said it was not clear what triggered the first explosions early on Thursday.

The site belongs to the Berlin police, and controlled blasts are carried out there twice a year for several days at a time.

It was created in 1950, and before Thursday’s explosions around 25 metric tons of fireworks, wartime ammunition and other explosive ordnance was stored there, the German news agency dpa reported.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey cut short her holiday to visit the scene
Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey cut short her holiday to visit the scene (Alamy/PA)

Mr Kirstein called on residents to stay away from the forest and authorities declared a one-kilometre exclusion zone around the ammunition dump.

Due to flying debris and the threat of further explosions, the fire department said it could not systematically extinguish the fire as emergency forces were also not allowed to enter the exclusion zone.

Firefighters on the scene were initially pouring water on the forest outside the banned area around the ammunition dump trying to prevent the blaze from spreading further.

They were also planning to get aerial images by flying a drone over the ammunition dump to judge the situation.

“The plan is to get a new situation assessment from the blast site — initially from the air,” Mr Kirstein said.

According to first estimates an area of 1.5 hectares was burning around the ammunition dump.

Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey cut short her holiday to visit the scene and thank emergency personnel for their efforts.

She made clear that no homes or residents were threatened, but said city authorities needed to talk seriously about moving the ammunition dump out of the vicinity of the city of 3.65 million residents.

The commuter train service to the city’s west was partially interrupted and one of the city’s most important highways, the Avus, was closed.

Homes were not directly threatened by the flames but the fire department warned that the fire could further spread due to the dry conditions of the forest and expected temperatures of up to 38C.

By Press Association

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