04.08.2022, Sachsen, Leipzig: Feuer und Rauch sind am Sprengplatz im Berliner Grunewald zu sehen. 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: Feuerwehr Berlin/TNN/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

After fire and explosions at the Berlin police munitions detonation site triggered a major fire in Grunewald early Thursday morning, the question to be answered will soon be: How did this happen? And why is such a place in the middle of the forest?

Questions that the Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) also asked on site on Thursday: “We have to think about how we will deal with this explosive site in the future and whether the city of Berlin is the right place for it. I will also be with Dietmar Woidke talk about how to go into cooperation in the metropolitan area,” said Giffey.

The explosive site in Grunewald is a legacy of the Second World War. The unexploded examples of the bombs that were dropped on Berlin had to go somewhere if they couldn’t be defused on site.

Ammunition finds that are recovered during construction work or in the Berlin waters are regularly blown up there to this day. There are large blasts, for which the neighboring Avus is also closed, and regular blasts, which usually take place on Wednesdays – but probably not between April and September.

As long as the cause of the explosion has not been investigated, the Senate for the Environment did not comment on whether the fire in the early morning hours of Thursday was related to this.

On the question of whether a blasting site in Grunewald makes sense, spokesman Jan Thomsen said: On the one hand, trees offer better protection against controlled blasting than an open field. On the other hand, such questions would certainly be asked afterwards and would have to be answered once the cause of the fire had been determined. “This is a Berlin police facility that has been there for decades and only the police can provide information about its security equipment,” said Thomsen.

So far, the blast site was considered safe, and the Senate Environmental Administration had no information about previous accidents on request. Mario Kräft is an explosion protection expert from Berlin, knows the place and described the police officers there to the Tagesspiegel as “very exemplary in terms of safety. They know what they are doing.” Only what can be stored is stored there.

One problem, however, is the ammunition from World War II. Under the ground there are “climatically stable conditions” for bombs and grenades, says Kraft. “However, this does not ensure that, for example, explosive oils from the explosives of a bomb or grenade will sweat out. That is highly explosive. Over time, undesirable chemical reactions can occur.”

In the event of a fire, the old ammunition could also explode. “The warmer it is, the faster it goes up. The cause of the fire must now be investigated, which will be a very complex process.”

And what’s burning now? As far as the tree population is concerned, the forest administration said that pine was dominant there, “but with deciduous wood in the shelter. At the moment it is still unclear which stocks are exactly burning.”

If the fire stays under control, there will only be local consequences in the trees, “which can be reforested or even regenerate themselves,” said Thomsen. The Grunewald is currently not endangered with its cooling and water storage function and also as a recreational forest. The fire affects an estimated 1.5 of more than 2,200 hectares of forest in Grunewald alone north of the A115.