Rain and cooler temperatures ensured a stable situation in the forest fire area in the Lieberoser Heide on Thursday. The district of Dahme-Spreewald announced that the intensity of the fire had decreased significantly.

The fire, covering an area of ​​86 hectares, did not spread further overnight. According to the Lausitz regional control center, 172 firefighters were on duty in the morning.

A large contingent of emergency services is planned for the day. In addition to two Federal Police helicopters, two other Bundeswehr helicopters are to support the emergency services on site in extinguishing the fire. An additionally requested task force from Potsdam-Mittelmark should help.

“We hardly have any open flames left. The weather played into our hands a lot during the night,” said district fire chief Christian Liebe, according to the announcement. The goal is to extinguish the fire on Thursday. “Today we want to bring as much water into the area as possible. The weather conditions offer the best conditions for this: rain and cooler temperatures.

District Administrator Stephan Loge (SPD), who again got an idea on site, said: “We control the situation here with the forest fire in the Lieberoser Heide. We were able to consistently avoid evacuations from the neighboring towns.”

According to the Dahme-Spreewald district, 66 hectares of forest were affected by the fire on Wednesday, which corresponds to around 90 football pitches. The spokeswoman for the district said: “Rain would help”. There was no precipitation in the area on Wednesday.

The extinguishing work is difficult because of the persistent drought and the contaminated soil. The emergency services cannot enter the area because it is loaded with ammunition. Large forest fires had already raged in the nature reserve and former military training area in previous years.

The police are also checking whether the forest fire may have been caused by negligent or intentional arson. There are no concrete findings on this, said a spokeswoman for the southern police department.

“The situation has developed dynamically over the course of the day. The shifting wind and the persistent drought are causing us difficulties. The condition of the path is also becoming increasingly difficult,” said district fire chief Christian Liebe on Tuesday evening.

After the forest fire broke out in the Lieberoser Heide in south-eastern Brandenburg, the fire brigade was prepared for a longer-lasting mission. Liebe said on Tuesday that, in his estimation, the firefighting would last at least until Wednesday. Rain is only announced for Thursday.

On Tuesday morning, the operations management had spoken of a 13-hectare fire area. District Administrator Stephan Loge, who got an idea of ​​the situation himself, said: “Experience over the past few years shows us that the fire is insidious due to the imponderables and the high level of drought.”

At the end of June 2019, a fire raged on 100 hectares of the former military training area in the Lieberoser Heide. It took a week for the fire to be extinguished. The danger there remains high with the great drought and the current temperatures. Forest fire warning level 4 is currently in effect in the Dahme-Spreewald district – the second highest.

In view of the forest fires in Brandenburg, Forestry and Climate Protection Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) called for the forest to be converted more quickly with significantly more deciduous trees. There are still 80 percent pine forests. “Bringing in deciduous trees is the order of the day,” said Vogel on Tuesday on RBB Inforadio.

A total of 600,000 hectares of coniferous forest would have to be converted, but it is currently less than 5,000 hectares per year. That’s not enough. The conversion must be done within a generation because of climate change, said Vogel. “Otherwise we might soon have no more forests in Brandenburg.” In total, Brandenburg has more than one million hectares of forest areas.

Vogel spoke of the fourth drought year in five years. So far, 755 hectares of forest have already burned down, but the forest fire season is only at the beginning. 80 percent of fires are caused by people, such as cigarettes or arson. In the meantime, however, the reporting system has been improved, most fires are discovered quickly and therefore remain very small.

The managing director of the Brandenburg Natural Landscape Foundation, Andreas Meißner, fears that the forest fire in the Lieberose Heide will cause permanent damage to animals and plants that are worthy of protection. “What is happening there hurts my soul,” said the moor expert from the German Press Agency in Potsdam. Habitat for rare plants and animal species as well as centuries-old moor history were lost. “This is an absolutely painful loss for me personally.”

The Brandenburg Natural Landscape Foundation says it is securing four former military training areas for nature conservation, including a 3,150-hectare area in the Lieberose Heide, where there is a fire in a moor area. In the area, there is a habitat that is particularly worthy of protection, with plant species such as rosemary heather and three rare sundew species, said Meißner.

According to the expert, as part of climate change with ever drier and hotter summers, the risk of fire is also increasing. “Burning bogs are a huge loss from an ecological point of view. If peat burns there, they lose centuries or even millennia of peat growth.” Peat can only develop if there is a sustained excess of water. It is also an important carbon dioxide store (CO2).