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Fire in Grunewald: railways running again, road closures remain

Waldbrand im Grunewald

Fire engines, a buffer tank and police vehicles are parked near the fire site.

Despite the initial effect of the extinguishing measures, the fire in Berlin's Grunewald remains an "enormous danger" according to the fire brigade. The safety zone of 1000 metres around the site that has been in place since the fire broke out on Thursday is still being maintained.

On Saturday, however, there was a relief for rail traffic: the fire brigade, in consultation with the police, reopened the train line at the edge of the restricted zone. This means that public transport as well as long-distance traffic can start running again on the line. The railway line runs between the main stations in Berlin and Potsdam. S-Bahn trains as well as regional trains, ICs and ICEs were affected.

Avus remains closed

According to a spokesperson, rail traffic will gradually be resumed. However, the Avus motorway 115, which runs parallel to the tracks a little closer to the danger zone, will remain closed at least until Sunday. The fire brigade expects the containment area around the fire to remain in place for several days. "The extinguishing measures on the blast site and the cooling measures of these three hotspots, which have been defined by the blast master, are having an effect," fire brigade spokesman Thomas Kirstein said in Berlin on Saturday. The task now, he said, was to reliably ensure the cooling of the site.

Situation at blasting site still not under control

"Even if we release the railway traffic, the outer perimeter barriers will remain in place," Kirstein said. The situation at the blasting site is still not under control. "There is of course an enormous danger there," Kirstein said. Armoured vehicles and robots are being used there for cooling. On Friday, temperatures of up to 700 degrees had been measured. Kirstein didn't give any information about new temperatures. "It is permanently monitored," he said.

Blast site must be cooled

Susanne Bauer, head of the Berlin police's Criminal Investigation Institute, announced explorations at the blast site. "We're going in with a protected vehicle to see what's on the main path of the blasting site, so we can then send the extinguishing robot in there." Subsequently, the still hot spots will be cooled down further. "Then the situation will be reassessed," Bauer said.

Cause of fire not yet known

She could not give any information on the cause of the fire and the explosions. "Now it's a matter of safety." What is being looked at, she said, are hazards that the emergency services need to take care of. "We can look at the cause when the blast site is cleared and we can go there with investigators."

Fire brigade prevents the fire from spreading

In the surrounding forest, the fire brigade was able to prevent the fire from spreading. "We repeatedly extinguished smaller pockets of fire," Kirstein said. He added that the situation immediately around the blasting site must be constantly reassessed, for example whether it is also possible to proceed with firefighters. "But for that to happen, there first needs to be a bit more security at the blasting site."

Firefighting tanks in use

There were no further explosions during the night of Saturday, the report continued. Remote-controlled robots to investigate the perimeter had been withdrawn during the night because the situation had eased. Work continued on Saturday. The fire brigade and a special company used a firefighting tank.

Explosions on Thursday and Friday

The fire had broken out on the blast site on Thursday night. Tonnes of old grenades, ammunition and confiscated fireworks were stored in buildings on the site. Explosions were heard and the fire spread throughout the dry forest area during the day. The blasting site for the destruction of weapons and explosives has existed since 1950. The police are now in charge.

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 6 August 2022
Last updated: 6 August 2022

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