Shifting winds from the direction of the Czech Republic have exacerbated the situation in the forest fire area in the Saxon Switzerland National Park. The fight against the fire is currently aimed at preventing further spread of flames from the neighboring country, as the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district office announced on Thursday afternoon. “The emergency services are doing their utmost to further contain the fire.” The district office described the development of the fire as dynamic.
At noon, around 340 firefighters from the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district and other districts were on site. Dozens of workers from various aid organizations take care of the logistics and supplies. According to the information, around 250 hectares of forest are currently on fire.
The forces are supported by eight fire-fighting helicopters, three other machines for reconnaissance flights and two water cannons from the state police. Firefighting helicopters are also used on the Czech side.
According to the district office, a section of the Elbe is closed until 10 p.m. on Thursday for water extraction by fire-fighting helicopters.
A forest fire expert does not rule out rockfalls as a result of the events. “I fear that the fires in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains will lead to dramatic soil erosion and rockfalls. There’s hardly any humus there, the trees are on rock,” said Michael Müller, professor of silviculture and forest protection at the Technical University of Dresden, the newspapers of the Bayern media group on Thursday.
The expert advocated not always extinguishing forest fires in all areas. In a German national park, every fire slows down natural development by decades. The situation in the pine forests in Brandenburg, for example, is different. “There are areas with a high ammunition load there. Here you have to decide whether you should put out fires or give up and let it go.”
Müller also sees the use and purchase of fire-fighting aircraft as a supporting tool at best. “You can’t put out a forest fire with fire-fighting aircraft. We mainly throw the water on the treetops and are talking about one to two liters of water per square meter.”
With fire-fighting aircraft, however, one can rob a strong fire of energy for a short time. “The heat and noise level of the fire then abruptly decrease. Then the fire brigades can attack the crucial ground fire.”
In order to ensure a certain minimum water level in the Elbe, the Czech Republic releases more water from its dam system into the Elbe. The discharge from the so-called Vltava cascade will be increased by 20 cubic meters of water per second, Czech Agriculture Minister Zdenek Nekula announced on Twitter on Thursday.
That is more than 1.7 million cubic meters of water per day. The Vltava Cascade includes, among others, the large Orlik and Lipno reservoirs in the south-west of the Czech Republic. The Moldau flows into the Elbe near Melnik.
“The situation is tense,” said the press spokesman for the district of Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains, Thomas Kunz. So far, however, no towns or individual buildings have been evacuated, and there is currently no danger to the population. According to Kunz, however, there are corresponding concepts that could be implemented quickly.