The large forest fire on the Saxon-Brandenburg state border in Gohrischheide and near Mühlberg (Elbe-Elster) was under control on Saturday. “There are no longer open flames there,” reported a spokesman for the Lausitz regional control center in the afternoon. On the Saxon side, the fire had not yet been completely extinguished. “We still have a fire in the core area in Gohrischheide, which is spreading slowly,” reported operations manager Matthias Heydel from the Zeithain fire department.
However, the emergency services could not get there at all, said Heydel. The location of the fire is in the middle of the nature reserve, is overgrown and cannot be reached on paths. The fire is monitored by drone and should be received by the firefighters at a fire break. In favorable wind conditions there is also a chance that this fire will simply die out.
A total of 800 hectares were affected by the forest fire, 350 of them on the Brandenburg side, said the spokesman for the Lausitz regional control center. In Brandenburg, 250 firefighters were still on duty on Saturday to track down embers. They were to be assisted by a federal police helicopter with a thermal imaging camera. Around 75 firefighters were on site in Saxony.
It is important to use the time window up to the higher temperatures expected for Sunday in order to eliminate as many danger spots as possible, said Norman Barth from the state fire brigade school. “It’s still smoking back there – that could mean open flames and flying sparks again tomorrow,” he explained. This could quickly lead to wildfires again. “It cannot be ruled out that things will get tricky tomorrow.”
Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU) also warned that the flames could flare up again. There is no longer an open fire, Stübgen said after visiting the technical operations center in Neuburxdorf (Elbe-Elster). “But the heat in the ground is still over 500 degrees and more, because the layer of humus is still smoldering and glowing here,” explained the minister. “And so the danger is not yet eliminated.”
Rainer Engel, a forest fire protection expert from Brandenburg, said the rain on Saturday night brought little relief. Rather, the fire simply burned out, especially on the arable land, when there was no more new food. “A 50-meter-wide protective strip was plowed along the fields to prevent the flames from spreading,” reported Engel. In addition, sprinkler systems would be set up at the edge of the fire area.
The forest fire protection experts were also concerned about the expected high temperatures of over 30 degrees on Sunday. “Then fires can flare up again at any time,” he said. On Saturday, the forest fire situation was comparatively low in all 14 districts due to the high humidity. Already on Monday, Engel expects the second highest warning level 4 nationwide. The risk of forest fires should also increase again in Saxony.
The major fire broke out on Thursday in the Gohrischer Heide area in Saxony and spread on Friday in the direction of Mühlberg (Elbe-Elster) in Brandenburg. More than 800 hectares were at times in flames. An interim evacuation of the local locations of Kröbeln and Kosilenzien in the city of Bad Liebenwerda was lifted again on Friday evening from 9 p.m.
On the Saxon side, the situation had eased a little earlier. There are no longer any large-scale flames and the fire is under control for the time being, said operations manager Matthias Heydel from the Zeithain fire brigade on Friday. “The worst is done for now.”
On Friday, the fire in the Gohrischheide area in Saxony had spread to Brandenburg over the course of the day, according to the district, due to the unfavorable wind conditions. In the afternoon, therefore, the major damage situation was declared, and Kosilenzien and Kröbeln were evacuated.
Around 800 hectares were at times in flames. There has never been a similarly large forest fire in the area, said the spokeswoman for the Zeithain fire department, Dorit Riedel. “We’ve never had anything like this here in recent years.”
The extinguishing work in Gohrischheide was made more difficult because some of the areas involved were munitions and the areas cannot be entered. “It’s an old military training ground. Emergency services who were on site reported that there were always small explosions,” said Riedel.
The fire broke out on Thursday. In the meantime, the fire was under control, but then the wind fanned the flames again, said a spokesman for the rescue control center in Dresden. The area was previously used for military purposes. There are still a number of duds in the ground.
The Gohrischheide north of Dresden in the Meißen district is a nature reserve that was set up on the former Zeithain military training area.
Emergency services from Cottbus were also on their way to the scene of the fire with three tank fire engines, a command vehicle and a crew transporter.
In the district of Elbe-Elster Brandenburg there was level 4 of the forest fire danger on Friday, especially in northern Brandenburg some districts were at the highest level 5. The second highest danger level also applied in the district of Meissen.
In Treuenbrietzen (Potsdam-Mittelmark district), the forest area has now been handed over to the private forest owners after the serious fire at the weekend. “You must now provide fire guards there and inform the fire brigades in the event of a fire,” said the district spokesman, Kai-Uwe Schwinzert, on Friday on request.
The nests of embers hidden in the forest floor near Beelitz (Potsdam-Mittelmark) had flared up again in the meantime, but could be extinguished and brought under control. “What we don’t need now is wind,” said Schwinzert. It could fan dangerous flames.
According to the information, two fire brigades were on duty in Beelitz during the night. Individual spots distributed over the forest area were affected. The fires were extinguished during the night, said Mayor Bernhard Knuth (independent). It is a “relaxed situation, but it requires some attention,” said Knuth.
The forest fire near Rheinsberg in the Ostprignitz-Ruppin district is also under control. However, a fire station has been set up on site in case a fire hazard should develop again, said a spokeswoman for the fire brigade.
The forest fire in the north of Brandenburg broke out on Thursday. According to the first information from the fire brigade, around five hectares of forest were on fire. The police spoke of two to three hectares.
In Rheinsberg in the district of Ostprignitz-Ruppin, the highest forest fire risk level 5 applies in addition to the district of Prignitz. The fire in the Schwanow district resulted in heavy smoke on Thursday.
Last weekend there were two forest fires in Treuenbrietzen and Beelitz (Potsdam-Mittelmark district) south of Berlin. Hundreds of firefighters, supported by Bundeswehr soldiers, were deployed. About 200 hectares were in flames at a time. Firefighters continue to monitor developments on site.