When it comes to fighting the devastating forest fire in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park, there is still no relief in sight: instead, the Czech fire brigade stepped up their efforts. On Saturday, 220 additional forces were pulled together from all over the Czech Republic, as a spokesman said.
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The number of firefighters in the operation has increased to more than 650. The forest fire raged over an area of 10.6 square kilometers, as confirmed by satellite images. The Bohemian Switzerland National Park with its rocky landscape borders on Saxon Switzerland, where there are also fires.
“We will actively go into the glowing nests, pour water over them and dig up the ground,” said fire department spokesman Lukas Marvan on Czech television. While there were heavy rain showers in Prague, 90 kilometers away, only light precipitation was expected in Bohemian Switzerland. The fire-fighting work is supported by eight helicopters and five fire-fighting aircraft. Access to large parts of the national park area has now been banned to keep onlookers away.
A firefighter was hit and seriously injured by a falling tree on Saturday afternoon near the Prebischtor, which is considered a landmark of the national park. He was taken to the hospital by helicopter. Another man suffered a serious allergic reaction to bee and wasp stings, and another seriously injured his leg.
The fire broke out in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic last weekend and spread to the Saxon Switzerland National Park on Monday. According to the authorities, the situation relaxed first in the middle of the week. However, due to the shifting wind, the fire then spread again. Disaster alert applies in Bad Schandau and in Sebnitz.
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 fire brigade and civil protection workers have been in suspense from a devastating fire in the Elbe Sandstone Mountains for days. A second rages on the Saxon-Brandenburg state border.
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 continued support with firefighting 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.