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Berlin forest fire at police site mostly under control

DPA WORLD
Published August 05,2022
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Smoke rises in Berlin's Grunewald forest in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. (AP Photo)
A forest fire triggered by several blasts at a police explosives disposal site in Berlin's Grunewald forest has largely been brought under control, police said.

Most of the flames have been extinguished, a day after the blaze erupted.

But the cordoned-off blast site where the fire broke out still presents a problem, fire officials said.

The danger of an explosion there is still so great that experts from the fire brigade and police were only able to approach it in armoured vehicles on Friday to assess the situation. More explosions and flying debris could be expected, according to the fire department.

The initial inspection on Friday revealed ground temperatures of up to 700 degrees Celsius in some areas, police spokesman Thilo Cablitz said.

No-one has been injured so far in the blaze, which initially affected an area of roughly 1.5 hectares only to to cover some 50 hectares by Thursday evening.

On Friday morning, Berlin police, assisted by the German military, inspected the police explosives disposal site, fire services spokesman Thomas Kirstein said on Friday.

An explosives expert had toured the site using an armoured recovery vehicle to make an initial assessment, he said.

Authorities still have to decide whether firefighters will be allowed to access the site and when motorways and rail lines in the area could again be released for use.

An armoured fire engine from a private company was deployed in the woodland near the site where flames and glowing embers could still be seen on Friday. Unmanned devices were to be used later to enter the site to spray water, Kirstein said.

Fire broke out anew in woodland to the south of the disposal site on Friday, with clouds of smoke passing over the Zehlendorf residential area of the city. Light rain provided some relief to the 150 firefighters deployed to the scene in the south-west of Berlin.

Some 30 tons of military equipment and munitions had been stored at the site, measuring some 80,000 square metres, according to police information. The material included munitions left over from World War II, which are still found regularly by construction workers in the city, and confiscated fireworks scheduled for destruction.

Fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday following a series of detonations. The immediate cause of the explosions remains unclear.