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Berlin: Avus City Freeway Reopened, Firefighting Operations Continue

The Berlin Fire Department’s operational command in Grunewald decided to reopen the Avus. This city freeway is an important traffic artery in Berlin. But the fight against the fire continues, meaning the danger has not been averted completely.

Berlin, August 11th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Almost a week after explosions at an ammunition and bomb disposal site in Grunewald caused a major forest fire, the Berlin Fire Department reopened the Avus city highway on Wednesday evening. The decision was announced at about 6:00 p.m.. It took a few more hours to remove all warning signs and barriers. Once this was done, the usual traffic was back on the road.

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Work Continues

According to the Fire Department, Havel Chaussee, a street localted between the Havel river and Grunewald, was reopened as well. On the Avus, the Hüttenweg exit remains closed. The fire brigade uses it as an access road to the danger zone. Explosions are not expected anymore, at this stage. By now, firefighters are able to access the ammunition disposal site, but their work continues.

For days, the dangerous spot had to be cooled down. Germany’s Federal Police sent helicopters that collected water from the nearby Havel river and dropped it on the danger zone. These efforts led to an improvement of the situation. But there is still WWII ammunition at the disposal site. During the explosions recorded there, some of the material was catapulted into the forest around the location. This is one reason why there is still danger.

Uncontrolled Explosions

Since the end of the war, hundreds of unexploded WWII bombs have been found in Berlin. On a regular basis, they are being dug up, mostly on construction sites. The Berlin Police Department has an experienced bomb disposal team. The explosives are usually transported to the disposal location in Grunewald. Confiscated firecrackers and similar products were stored and destroyed at the Grunewald site as well, before uncontrolled explosions caused those forest fires to erupt on Thursday of last week.

Since, the Berlin Fire Department has been in the process of extinguishing the fire in its largest operation since the war. Hundreds of firefighters were in Grunewald 24/7, and many still are. The Berlin Police Department sent officers with water cannons designed for violent protests and riots. They were used in forest fires in several eastern German states this summer. So were those helicopters provided by the Federal Police.

Overall Situation

When the forest fire commenced last week, the smoke could be seen several miles away, in other parts of Berlin and in neighboring Brandenburg. Now, smaller fires and pockets of embers still have to be extinguished, but the overall situation has improved substantially. The cause of the explosions is still being investigated. This task is easier now that the ammunition disposal site is accessible.

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