The forest fire that broke out on Friday near Treuenbrietzen in Brandenburg is out of control. The residents of the districts of Frohnsdorf, Klausdorf and Tiefenbrunnen were asked to leave their homes. The city of Treuenbrietzen announced this via Twitter.
According to information from the German Press Agency (dpa), the residents of the Bardenitz district are also being prepared for the evacuation.
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On Sunday, meanwhile, there was another fire in the Potsdam-Mittelmark district: an area near Beelitz-Heilstätten was affected.
No information could yet be given on the size of the affected area, said the head of operations at the regional office of the Brandenburg/Havel fire brigade on request. 35 emergency vehicles from the fire brigade are on site to extinguish the fire.
The treetops caught fire, said the spokeswoman for the district, Andrea Metzler. This is dangerous because the fire can spread rapidly.
The district of Dahme-Spreewald, which lies east of the districts of Potsdam-Mittelmark and Teltow-Fläming, reported on Sunday afternoon via the Katwarn app: “Due to the forest fires in the Treuenbrietzen area, visible smoke is developing in the district refrain from this connection.”
According to a spokesman for the disaster management team for the Potsdam-Mittelmark district, around 20 citizens were affected by the evacuation in Tiefenbrunnen and Frohnsdorf. They had already been warned on Saturday and were able to prepare.
The residents are asked to leave their apartments “immediately” and go to emergency accommodation in the town hall of Treuenbrietzen.
In an official hazard notification, residents are asked to pay attention to announcements by the police and fire brigade and to follow the instructions of the emergency services. Neighbors should be informed, assistance should be provided if necessary.
The Brandenburg Ministry of the Interior announced via Facebook that the crisis team was put into full operation. In addition, the Bundeswehr had promised three more helicopters: “The situation is difficult and the wind is unfavorable, but everyone is doing their best.”
The CDU parliamentary group leader in the Brandenburg state parliament, Jan Redmann, thanked the emergency services on Instagram and called on citizens to take the warnings seriously: “Please do not hesitate to leave your homes and seek protection!”
“The situation is coming to a head dramatically,” said the district spokeswoman, Andrea Metzler, on Sunday afternoon to the Potsdamer Latest News. “It looks menacing.” This is because the wind has shifted. The operations center was moved from Frohnsdorf to the fire station in Treuenbrietzen.
According to Metzler, it cannot be ruled out that other towns will have to be evacuated. The number of emergency services is to be increased to 750. Armored recovery vehicles have been requested.
The district administrator of the Potsdam-Mittelmark district has declared a disaster, said a spokesman for the regional control center of the fire brigade in Brandenburg an der Havel.
According to RBB information, the flames have now spread over an area of 200 hectares, and the fire has also spread beyond the blocked B 102.
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Because ammunition and explosive ordnance lie in the ground on the site – a former blasting and training area – the firefighters cannot get close to the fire. If the fire goes through the area, ammunition hidden in the ground can explode.
In addition, self-ignition is possible. Firefighters can therefore not simply drive into the forest area and put out the fire there. You would put your life in danger. A complete clearing of the site from explosive ordnance would cause immense costs.
The Bundeswehr has also been supporting firefighting with fire-fighting flights since Saturday evening. The district had submitted a corresponding request for administrative assistance, the Air Force said on the short message service Twitter. Soldiers from the district liaison command Potsdam-Mittelmark are also involved.
Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht thanked the deployed soldiers on Twitter: “The Bundeswehr is there when it is needed. Thanks to our men and women who are currently helping to fight the forest fire near Treuenbrietzen.”
In the fight against the fire that broke out on Friday evening, it initially looked like a success on Saturday. The fire could be contained from two 60 hectares to 42 hectares, as Raimund Engel, forest fire protection officer for the state of Brandenburg, explained on Saturday morning.
A fire protection unit from Havelland with 200 forces arrived on Saturday morning to relieve the firefighters, said Engel. From midday, a fire-fighting helicopter was deployed to support firefighting from the air.
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Because the helicopters were also supposed to take water from the quarry pond, the municipality warned potential bathers not to be in the water at the same time. The forest protection officer Engel had also warned on Saturday morning that gusts of wind could reignite the fire.
Brandenburg fire brigades went out on Saturday to further fires due to drought. Around 160 cubic meters of compost caught fire in Jühnsdorf (Teltow-Fläming), according to the control center of the Brandenburg/Havel fire brigade. The fire has since been extinguished, the spokesman said. However, follow-up checks would take some time.
In Lüdendorf near Treuenbrietzen, three hectares of forest caught fire. The forest also burned in Radeland, a district of the town of Baruth/Mark. The fire was stopped shortly before the settlement border, it said.
Firefighters were also called to a fire in the Altes Lager area, a district of the municipality of Niedergörsdorf. This fire is also under control. The extinguishing work continued, however, said the spokesman.
Numerous emergency services from the region were also on site during the night, the Potsdam fire brigade also moved out, and the Brandenburg police’s water cannons were used. “Thank you to all the aid organizations that are going beyond their limits in these high temperatures,” wrote the district’s civil protection department on Facebook. And: “We are currently in the same place for the forest fire as in 2018. Thanks to the residents who are supporting us here diligently.”
On Friday, 380 forces had already been deployed. A massive cloud of smoke can be seen as far south as Brandenburg, said Raimund Engel, forest fire protection officer for the state of Brandenburg.
Brandenburg’s forests are particularly vulnerable to forest fires. Because Brandenburg is one of the driest regions in Germany, and Germany is one of the areas in the world that is losing the most groundwater as a result of the climate crisis.
The situation in Brandenburg has not recovered since the extremely hot summers of 2018 and 2019, and there is still drought deep in the soil. This spring, too, the precipitation was too low for the storage in the ground to be refilled. This is now also evident from the fact that more and more ponds, lakes and rivers in the region and in Berlin are drying up.
The current heat wave is further exacerbating the situation. In addition, due to climate change, such extreme weather conditions will occur more frequently and as unusually early and intensively as they do in Europe now, says Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Weather Organization (WMO) in Geneva, the dpa news agency. “Unfortunately, what we are experiencing today is a foretaste of the future.”
This is due to the ever-increasing concentration of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere, mainly due to the consumption of oil, gas and coal, which cause the greenhouse effect.
In view of the burning forests and drying up rivers, Tammo Westphal from the Green Youth in Brandenburg calls for more “ambitious climate protection: We expect the entire state government to finally give top priority to climate protection and climate adaptation.” Moore would have to be watered and forests made climate-stable.
In 2018, flames raged for several days in the forest southwest of Berlin in Treuenbrietzen. At that time, around 400 hectares of forest had been destroyed.