According to the authorities, the forest fire that has been raging in the Czech National Park Bohemian Switzerland for more than a week is under control. That said the general director of the Czech fire brigade, Vladimir Vlcek, on Monday evening in Hrensko.
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The operational area could be reduced from around 1000 to 600 hectares. More than 1,000 firefighters with almost 350 vehicles are now on site to extinguish embers. The Bohemian Switzerland National Park borders on Saxon Switzerland, where there are also fires.
The forest fire in Saxon Switzerland, on the other hand, continued to employ hundreds of firefighters on Monday. “Over the course of the day, around 500 firefighters will be on duty,” said the spokesman for the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district, Thomas Kunz. The problem is that nests of embers wandered into the ground and spread. “Today this is being fought with barricades.”
The humus layer of the forest floor should therefore be dug up and a foam carpet applied in order to contain the embers spreading in the ground. According to the district, a drone flight on Sunday evening also confirmed a fire at a height of 20 meters. This could not be reached by the firefighters and should therefore be fought with helicopters in the morning. The firefighting helicopters are very effective, said Kunz.
In the afternoon, Federal Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer (CDU) want to visit the forest fire area to get an idea of the current situation on site. The Bundeswehr supported the fire brigade on Monday with five helicopters for extinguishing and one for coordination.
The firefighting operation went into its second week on Monday. The fire broke out on July 24 in the Czech National Park Bohemian Switzerland and then spread to German territory. According to the authorities, the situation eased first in the middle of last week. However, due to the shifting wind, the fire then spread again. Even brief rain did not help.
In the Czech National Park Bohemian Switzerland, the number of firefighters deployed was increased by 150 to around 900. “Our goal is to reduce the affected area as much as possible,” said a spokesman for the emergency services on Monday on CT public television. The forest fire rages on around 1000 hectares. The Bohemian Switzerland National Park borders on Saxon Switzerland.
The areas in the so-called deep valley, around the wing wall (Kridelni stena) and in the rocks above the border town of Hrensko, among other things, are problematic here, the spokesman said. Around 250 firefighting vehicles, six helicopters and five firefighting planes were ready on the Czech side.
There was good news for the almost 100 residents of the municipality of Vysoka Lipa, who had been brought to safety from the approaching flames. They have since been able to return to their homes and apartments. There has not yet been a release for other evacuated places. In Hrensko there is growing concern that the summer season could be lost. Normally around 400,000 people annually take part in boat trips on the Kamnitz through the Edmundsklamm, a rocky gorge.
Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer assumes that fighting the forest fire in Saxon Switzerland will take a long time. “It will take days and weeks before we can talk about relaxation,” said the CDU politician during a visit to Bad Schandau on Friday evening. The head of government spoke of a “great and difficult task”.
He had previously flown a helicopter over the forest fire area to get an overview. For this, Kretschmer, like Interior Minister Armin Schuster (CDU), who was also there on Friday evening when visiting Bad Schandau, canceled his vacation.
The operation will cost a lot of money, Kretschmer spoke of “many millions of euros.” He assured the affected regions in the national park and in northern Saxony financial help – also for reconstruction.
At a time when it is getting drier and drier, one must also talk about the future of the national parks, according to Kretschmer. Among other things, aisles, water management in the forests and the removal of dead wood must be discussed.
In addition, Saxony’s head of government thanked the fire brigade, federal police and armed forces for their days of work. If they stopped working, everything would burn down, emphasized Kretschmer. “It’s a question of strength, who has the stamina, who gives up first.” The federal government has also promised to continue to support fire-fighting helicopters. “The only resource that is really useful here.”
At the same time, Kretschmer called on people not to cancel vacations in Saxon Switzerland. Every trip helps the region. The efforts of the fire brigade are currently focused on ensuring that the flames do not spread to other areas.
On Thursday evening, fire nests were also discovered and extinguished on the other side of the Kirnitzsch river, according to the spokesman for the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district, Thomas Kunz, in the morning. In the city of Sebnitz, a disaster alarm was therefore triggered on Friday night.
In Bad Schandau in Saxon Switzerland, this has been in effect since Tuesday. With the triggering of the disaster alarm, the emergency services can be better coordinated and access to other emergency services for extinguishing work can be ensured, it said.
The district also warned people with chronic respiratory diseases of “increased exposure of the respiratory tract to smoke exposure caused by weather and fire”. Physical exertion outdoors should be avoided as far as possible, it said.