Firefighters battle forest fire in Berlin’s Grunewald after blast in munitions store

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A large fire broke out early on Thursday in a popular forest in western Berlin following an explosion in a police munitions storage site, as a new heatwave hit Germany.

Published: 4 August 2022 09:28 CEST
Updated: 4 August 2022 12:11 CEST

Black smoke rises from the trees in Berlin’s Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Beate Schleep

Firefighters have so far only been able to begin tackling two of the four fires, as the affected area of 15,000 square metres (161,500 square feet) included a storage site for police ammunition.

Explosions were intermittently rocking the area, including a large detonation at 9am. No one has been hurt by the fires.

The below tweet shows the explosions early on Thursday morning in Grunewald. The clip was taken from the roof of the Corbusierhaus in the Westend area by building technician Michael von Rein. 

Berlin fire brigade has sought tanks from the German army (Bundeswehr) to help combat the flames, said spokesman Thomas Kirstein, adding that “we’re still waiting”.

“The fire is still not under control and is spreading further,” he said, noting that the situation is “extremely extraordinary with munitions”.

Map shows where the fire broke out in Berlin’s Grunewald. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa Grafik | dpa-infografik GmbH

Officials are building a security cordon to allow firefighters to begin extinguishing the flames from a distance of about a kilometre from the ammunition storage zone.

READ ALSO: German firefighters in ‘intense battle’ with wildfire

Earlier in the day a spokesman for the Berlin fire brigade said: “The situation is unpredictable. It’s burning uncontrollably in the forest.”

A police helicopter was circling the area, as authorities appealed for the public to keep away.

Smoke rises from the fire at the ‘Grunewald’ forest in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Disruption to transport

As a result of the ongoing fire in Berlin’s largest forest, regional and S-Bahn services to the west were disrupted on Thursday. 

The S-Bahn line S7 is only running from Berlin to Grunewald, a railway spokesperson told DPA.

Regional trains running between Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin-Friedrichstraße, including the RE1, RE7, RB21 and RB22 are also disrupted. 

It’s currently not clear to what extent long-distance traffic is affected by the fire.

The Avus motorway between Spanischer Allee and Hüttenweg is closed in both directions, as are Kronprinzessinnenweg and Havelchaussee, the Berlin traffic centre said.

Authorities warned the public about the fire on warning apps and called for people to avoid the danger area. They advised residents to keep windows and doors closed, and said ventilation and air conditioning systems should be turned off.

Temperatures are expected to climb to as high as 40C across parts of Germany. In Berlin, they are predicted to reach around 36-38C.

Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, has been battling forest fires in the hot weather this week.

Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves around the world more frequent and more intense, which increases the risk of fires.