A fire on the steep slope in Saxon Switzerland below the Bastei damaged around 2,500 square meters of natural mixed forest of old pine, beech and birch. The fire also largely destroyed the ground vegetation, a spokesman for the Saxon Switzerland National Park told the Evangelical Press Service (epd) in Bad Schandau on Monday. Whether at least the older trees could withstand the fire will only become apparent in the coming weeks and months. Extreme heat temperatures are currently prevailing in many parts of Europe.
The fire broke out on Monday night on a steep slope below the Bastei, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Saxon Switzerland, and spread to several thousand square meters.
Coal phase-out, climate change, sector coupling: The briefing for the energy and climate sector. For decision makers
Because of the steep terrain, the firefighters had to secure themselves with ropes, and a rescue group from the Heidenau volunteer fire department was also deployed. Around 115 firefighters from 13 surrounding local fire brigades managed to bring the flames under control in the difficult-to-access area by Monday afternoon. The Bastei Bridge was closed until further notice.
Two firefighters were injured fighting the fire. One fainted and another twisted his knee. The fire brigade was on site throughout Monday to extinguish the last embers. In some places the fire flared up again and again.
The police are investigating the cause of the fire in the person of two Kripo officers. The result of their investigation is now being determined on suspicion of arson.
The extent of the damage near the bastion was initially unclear. A steep area of 300 by 150 meters is affected. The fire brigade pumped water from the Elbe through long lines and extinguished the fire both from below and from above. The Pirna District Administrator Michael Geisler (CDU) said after a visit to the Sächsische Zeitung: “The fire departments worked together in an exemplary manner and were thus able to effectively contain the spread of the fire under these extreme conditions.” have to bear the costs of the assignment.
Just last week, the Dresden police, together with the national park administration in Saxon Switzerland, specifically searched for illegal fireplaces. In two cases, the inspectors found what they were looking for, and the national park administration initiated administrative offense proceedings. Forest fires in the national park have repeatedly occurred in the past, which could have been caused by illegal fireplaces that were extinguished poorly or incorrectly. Such fires are therefore prohibited throughout the national park.
The Bastei viewpoint, about 200 meters above the Elbe, half of which is currently closed due to construction work, is the most famous rock formation in Saxon Switzerland and, with around one and a half million visitors a year, is one of the most popular destinations in the national park.
It wasn’t just in Saxon Switzerland that there was a fire. A heat wave hits large parts of western Europe. In numerous areas of western France and England, the highest heat warning level applied on Monday, the weather services expected heat records. Around 8,000 people had to be brought to safety again from a forest fire south of Bordeaux.
High temperatures of between 38 and 40 degrees were expected in half of France. Heat and wind also fueled the forest fires that had been raging for days. The situation was particularly critical south of Bordeaux at the Bassin d’Arcachon, where 15,000 hectares of forest have already burned down.
In the municipality of Teste-de-Buch near the Dune du Pilat, which is popular with holidaymakers, around 8,000 people were taken to safety on Monday as a precaution, and there were another 3,500 people in other places. Since Tuesday, 16,200 holidaymakers had had to leave campsites and accommodation in the area.
There are now 1,700 firefighters in the region. The Ministry of the Interior announced on Sunday evening that it would increase the number of fire-fighting aircraft from six to nine.
In north-west Spain, a firefighter died fighting a forest fire that broke out in the municipality of Losacio on Sunday evening. The body of a shepherd was later discovered in the burned area.
Spain has been suffering from a massive heat wave with temperatures of up to 44 degrees for a week. The heat combined with extreme drought had triggered numerous fires, tens of thousands of hectares of forest have already been destroyed. On Monday, the highest forest fire danger level continued to apply almost throughout the country.
Britain faced an unprecedented heatwave on Monday. On Tuesday, the 40-degree mark should be exceeded for the first time ever. The previous maximum temperature recorded in Great Britain was 38.7 degrees in 2019.
For the first time in history, the authorities issued the highest heat warning level red for large parts of England, while the second highest level applied in Wales and parts of Scotland.
The British health authority also issued the highest warning level, which corresponds to a national emergency. She advised drinking a lot, not exposing yourself to the sun and taking care of people who are particularly vulnerable. Hospitals feared that they would reach their limits in the coming days.
Because of the extreme temperatures, some schools in England remained closed. Several railway companies advised train passengers not to travel on Monday and Tuesday. Operations on the London to York and Leeds rail route have been suspended for Tuesday between 11am and 7pm due to concerns about heat damage.
The British Meteorological Service’s chief meteorologist, Paul Gundersen, said the record heat was clearly due to climate change. He and his colleagues are concerned that “unprecedented” hot days like this could become a regular phenomenon by the end of the century.