04.08.2022, Berlin: Polizeibeamte und Feuerwehrfahrzeuge stehen am Kronprinzessinnenweg in Berlin. Im Berliner Grunewald ist nach einer unbeabsichtigten Explosion auf dem dortigen Sprengplatz am Donnerstagmorgen ein Feuer ausgebrochen und hat den angrenzenden Wald in Brand gesetzt. Foto: Christophe Gateau/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

After an explosion at a police blast site in Berlin’s Grunewald early Thursday morning, the surrounding forest caught fire, the fire burned uncontrollably over 1.5 hectares, i.e. 15,000 square meters. The fire brigade is in large-scale operation, the extinguishing work is difficult. According to the police and fire department, the Avus is expected to remain closed all day. Rail traffic between Berlin Central Station and Potsdam is also interrupted.

The fire broke out the morning after an explosion at the police detonation site in Grunewald. According to the fire department, explosive ordnance and fireworks, among other things, are stored there. Due to further explosions and flying debris, the fire brigade initially withdrew to 1000 meters.

In this radius, the adjacent forest areas have started to be irrigated, as a fire department spokesman said on Thursday morning. This is to make it more difficult for the flames to spread. A fire-fighting helicopter has been requested, and the Bundeswehr is also on site. Expect to be busy fighting the fire all day.

According to the Bundeswehr, it was in close coordination with the fire brigade and police in the morning, and some employees were already at the scene. As of nine o’clock, no request for administrative assistance had yet been received, but within the framework of emergency aid, it was being examined how best help could be provided, said the spokeswoman for the Berlin State Command, Juliane Thümmel, to the Tagesspiegel.

“We’re checking what’s needed, at least no explosions have been heard for an hour.” For example, armored recovery vehicles or ammunition experts could be considered. “That’s just being decided,” said Juliane Thümmel. The Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey is also expected at the site.

“The forest and a storage site for ammunition found by the Berlin police are on fire,” the fire brigade initially announced in the morning via the official warning portals “Nina” and “Katwarn”. “Explosion noises and nuisance from fire gases are to be expected.”

The fire brigade responded with more than 100 forces. The police brought clearing tanks and water cannons to Grunewald. A federal police helicopter was also deployed, and special forces from the Bundeswehr were also requested.

“The situation is confusing,” a fire department spokesman said in the morning. The fire continues to spread – but residential areas are not in danger. “We will prevent that.” The nearest residential buildings are at least two kilometers away. The drought in Grunewald and the ammunition material still stored on the site are a major challenge, the spokesman said.

Again and again in the morning there were further detonations of explosive devices. On Twitter, users reported that they could also be heard in Spandau on the other side of the Havel.

According to firefighters, no one was injured in the first explosion. How this was triggered is still completely unclear, said a police spokesman. Found ammunition is stored on the square and defused in a controlled manner by the explosive ordnance disposal service of the Berlin police.

Kronprinzessinnenweg, Havelchaussee and Autobahn 115 (Avus) in both directions between Spanish Allee and Hüttenweg are closed in this area. The warning portals called for people to avoid the affected area and drive around it. Residents should keep windows and doors closed. Ventilation and air conditioning should be turned off. The fire brigade urgently warned the population not to enter the forest on Thursday despite the expected heat.

According to the Berlin S-Bahn, train service on line S7 is interrupted due to the fire between the Grunewald and Wannsee stations. In regional traffic, the RE1 and RE7 as well as the RB21 and RB22 lines are interrupted between Wannsee and Friedrichstrasse. The S1 line between Friedrichstrasse and Wannsee is to be used as a bypass; it can also be used to get passengers to Potsdam.