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Berlin: Firefighters Still Active in Grunewald, Train Tracks Reopened

Since Thursday, a forest fire in Grunewald has kept the Berlin Fire Department busy. On Sunday morning, flames were still being fought, but the train tracks located east of the forest were reopened. The Avus city highway is still closed.

Berlin, August 7th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Three days after explosions at an ammunition and bomb disposal site in Grunewald caused a forest fire, firefighters are still trying to extinguish the flames. Some headway has been made. The experts on site decided the situation on the eastern side of Grunewald now justfied a reopening of the train tracks there.

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Largest Operation Since WWII

The stretch is used by regional trains as well as the ‘S-Bahn’, Berlin’s city train. According to Deutsche Bahn it might take days until the regular train schedules on lines that pass by Grunewald are back on track, in the truest sense of the word. Berlin’s Avus city highway was still blocked on Sunday morning. Every few hours, the Berlin Fire Department and other authorities involved in the efforts to extinguish the forest fire discuss the situation and take decisions. It is unclear, how much longer the Avus has to remain closed.

In this largest operation since WWII, Berlin’s firefighters are still working around the clock. For decades, West Berlin, and later the reunited city of Berlin, has been running an ammunition and bomb disposal site in the forest, because it is the only spot in Berlin at which there are no houses or apartment blocks. On a regular basis, explosives are blown up there, in a controlled way. They include WWII bombs and ammunition as well as illegal fire crackers that were confiscated. At this stage, nobody knows who or what caused the uncontrolled explosions on Thursday. Because of the forest fire, a discussion about moving the bomb disposal site has commenced.

Drones, Robots and Tanks

While being in the process of fighting the flames, the Berlin Fire Department is also trying to prevent more explosives from blowing up. Until Saturday, frequent blasts had rocked the forest. Now, some bomb and ammunition store loactions are being cooled. For this purpose, the firefighters use extinguishing water.

Since Thursday, Berlin has been getting help from other federal states. Lower Saxony sent a robot the colleagues in the capital are using to get a good view of the bomb disposal site. The Berlin Police Department was involved too. Officers alienated water cannons in the efforts to extinguish the fire. Drones and helicopters were in use as well. So were tanks. Some of them were used to cut aisles into the forest. The intention was to keep the fire from spreading further.

Pockets of Embers

The extent of the damage caused cannot be definied yet. First, the flames have to be extinguished and the situation at the bomb disposal site needs to be declared safe. All pockets of embers need to be located and removed or extinguished as well. Once all of this happens, experts will be able to tell how much forest was destroyed and how many animals died.

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