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05 Aug 2022, 14:16
Hannah Naylor

Berlin forest fire at ammunition storage site continues to rage in hot and dry climate

RBB / ZDF

Emergency fire services are struggling to contain a forest fire in the state of Berlin, which started early on Thursday 4 August in the popular Grunewald district. The fire broke out at a ammunition site used by the police to store retrieved second world war explosives and confiscated illegal fireworks, and several detonations took place on the site after the fire started, public broadcaster RBB reported. The exact cause of the fire remains unknown, but investigations are underway. The fire took hold in an area of around 1.5 hectares whilst the total area affected by smoke, debris and heat is said to be closer to 50 hectares. The Berlin fire brigade said the dry conditions and high heat in Germany over the past weeks would have encouraged the outbreak, with a lack of rain and continued high temperatures exacerbating the problem. High numbers of fires elsewhere across Germany also mean there are limited firefighting services available to help, such as helicopters.

“If residential buildings in particular had been much closer connected, we would have had a big mammoth task to deal with today,” Karsten Homrighausen, state fire director of the Berlin Fire Department, told public TV station ZDF. There have been no reported casualties, whilst people living in the closest residential buildings, approximately 3 kilometres away, have been instructed to keep their windows closed and turn off any air-conditioning systems. A stretch of the Berlin city railway and a nearby motorway have been closed due to the fire, causing transportation disruptions.

Drought and heat contributed to forest fires in the east of Germany in July, as temperatures reached record highs. Low levels of rain have also caused river volumes to deplete, posing issues for shipping of fuels such as coal

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