The flames in Berlin’s Grunewald have largely been extinguished – but the danger, especially for the emergency services, is not excluded. After a police demolition expert was able to explore the area in an armored recovery vehicle, the fire service, police and military had a better overview of the situation at the blast site. From there, the fire had spread to the forest. There are no big fires there anymore. The ground was still hot up to 700 degrees in some places, police said Friday evening.
To reduce the risk of further explosions from ammunition remains, these areas should be cooled with water. According to police, two stored World War II bombs, each weighing 250 kilograms, have been torn from their holders. They didn’t explode, but got very hot and had to be cooled. The same goes for other areas on the large property. For this, the fire brigade and a special company with a fire extinguisher take action. Police say there are no more fires there. Some warehouses for dangerous explosives have always been constantly cooled with water, nothing happened there.
Heated ammunition as a source of danger
According to the fire service, the temperature of the heated ammunition is repeatedly measured with “remote thermometers”. Only in this way can the fire service determine where cooling water is needed, says fire chief Karsten Homrighausen. “Just sticking water on it to put out the bombs is not always the solution either.” The fire brigade had already imposed a safety radius of 1,000 meters around the site on Thursday. Only when the cooling has been successful and the danger has been reduced, can the restricted area be reduced to a radius of 600 meters and the motorway and railway lines can be reopened.
Homrighausen stressed, “It’s because of security.” Further explosions of ammunition residues could throw material far away. There are no more explosions at this point. The explosives experts had identified three danger zones, where the fire service would specifically cool. In view of the complicated risk management, the fire service uses state-of-the-art and expensive technology from various organizations.
Brigadier General Jürgen Karl Uchtmann emphasized that it was still not necessary to deploy helicopters to extinguish the fire. Instead, a three-mile aisle through the woods was cut with an armored recovery vehicle so the fire trucks could get to the fire. “After the crisis has ended, they can be made available to Berliners as beautiful, wide walking and cycling paths.”
Plenty of old grenades and ammunition stored
According to initial findings, the fire broke out at the site of the explosion on Thursday evening. Tons of old grenades, ammunition and confiscated fireworks were stored in buildings on the property. Explosions could be heard as the fire spread throughout the dry forest area during the day. The fire service continued to fight the wildfires near the explosion site Friday evening, spokesman Thomas Kirstein said Friday morning after the initial briefing. In the morning these fires were almost extinguished. So far no injuries have been reported.
So in total it had burned down almost 50 hectares. 150 firefighters and 500 police officers are also cordoning off the area. The fire service emphasized that this operation was the most challenging and dangerous for the emergency services in post-war history. Nevertheless, the protection of capital is still guaranteed. “It has worked very well so far.” The exact cause is still unclear. The National Criminal Investigation Department must determine whether arson was possible. We also work together with the fire brigade and the demolition experts of the police.
Shares are “permanently sprinkled”
According to the police, about 30 tons of “ammunition and ammunition” from the Second World War and several hundred kilos of fireworks, which were confiscated on New Year’s Eve, are stored on the large site of the blast site. These stocks are being blown up at regular intervals, most recently in March and April. To be on the safe side, the stocks stored are “permanently irrigated”. There is also a fire protection concept, fire protection corridors and a fire alarm system.