News"Why is there a blasting site?" Answers to the...

"Why is there a blasting site?" Answers to the Berlin fire fiasco between Wannsee and the Olympic Stadium

Created: 08/05/2022, 2:20 p.m

The great fire in the Grunewald forest also heated up tempers in Berlin. Location, cause of fire, criticism – questions and answers about the forest fire in the middle of the capital.

Berlin – The pictures are spectacular. In the middle of the capital with its approximately 3.7 million inhabitants, a forest fire broke out in the Grunewald recreation area in the night from Wednesday to Thursday (4 August).

According to the authorities, there was an explosion at a Berlin police blast site, which caused further explosions in a chain reaction. But: Why is highly explosive material stored in the middle of a huge piece of forest at all? How could this tragedy happen? IPPEN.MEDIA examines questions and answers about the great fire in Grunewald.

Forest fire in Berlin: Why is there a fire in Grunefeld?

Where it burns? One of Berlin’s most affluent areas, Grunefeld is an upscale district in the vast Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf district (more than 330,000 residents). Elegant villas and hotels as well as idyllic streets and green avenues characterize the picture in the extreme west of the capital.

The Grunewald forest of the same name is a popular local recreation area and partly a nature reserve. It borders the Havel River to the west and the Berlin Olympic Park to the north, with the Olympic Stadium in the center. The well-known Wannsee is also a little further south, only a few kilometers away. The major fire broke out at a Berlin police blast site and spread to the surrounding forests. On Thursday afternoon, one and a half hectares of forest were on fire.

Waldbrand mitten in Berlin: Im Forst Grunewald ist auf einem Sprengplatz der Polizei ein Großfeuer ausgebrochen.
Forest fire in the middle of Berlin: A large fire broke out in the Grunewald forest at a police detonation site. © dpa-Bildfunk

Forest fire in Berlin: Why is there a fire in Grunefeld?

why is it burning According to the authorities, there was an uncontrolled explosion at the blasting site and ammunition depot. More explosions from the fire followed. According to the police, illegal fireworks and explosive ordnance ammunition through to disposed “World War I ammunition” from the Second World War are stored on the Grunewald site.

Because debris and fireworks kept flying around, the alarmed fire brigade had to leave again during the night and in the early hours of Thursday morning. According to the fire department spokesman, there was a “mortal danger” for the emergency services. A video posted by a journalist on Twitter shows an abandoned fire hose next to the ammunition explosion. Because it was not possible to fight it, the fire was able to spread. The soils in neighboring Brandenburg and Berlin are also considered to be particularly dry – regardless of the current heat in Germany. All of this favored the fire sources. The cause of the fire is so far unclear.

Forest fire in Berlin: what is known about the police blast site in Grunefeld?

What is known about the explosive site in Grunewald? It has been around since 1950. Controlled demolitions are scheduled there twice a year for several days, a police spokesman said on Thursday (August 4). There have been repeated attempts to look for other locations.

The blast site is secured with several rolls of barbed wire and a high barbed wire fence. According to the fire department spokesman, up to 50 tons of ammunition were stored on the site. As the police announced on Twitter, there are no alternative areas of use in Berlin or they cannot be approved. The site is equipped with fire alarm systems and has a fire protection lane several meters wide. Nevertheless, the flames were able to spread to the adjacent wooded areas. A video shared by Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (rbb) on Twitter, among others, shows a violent detonation in the morning hours.

While the operation was running at high pressure, the scenario in the capital also heated up tempers. The Berliner Zeitung wrote in a journalistic comment: “Explosion with announcement: Why is there a blast site in the middle of Grunewald? (…) Why is such a facility in a place where people are potentially endangered?” Berlin’s governing mayor explained on site: “We have to think about how we will deal with this explosive site in the future and whether it is in Berlin such a place is the right one.”

Forest fire in Berlin: fire brigade, army, federal police – how many forces are in action?

Who is involved in firefighting? As of Thursday afternoon, 250 people from the Berlin fire brigade and police, the Bundeswehr and the federal police were involved in fighting the fire. The fire brigade set up a restricted area within a kilometer radius of the site, in which the forest floor was watered.

A Bundeswehr armored engineer “Badger” was supposed to cut firebreaks in the rows of trees. Meanwhile, a federal police helicopter is monitoring the situation with thermal imaging cameras from the air. According to the authorities, however, fire-fighting helicopters from the federal police and the armed forces could not be requested because they were needed for the forest fires in Saxon Switzerland. (pm)

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