Fighting the flames: Hundreds of emergency services are fighting forest fires in MV

In the southwest of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the fight against ongoing forest fires continues on the second evening.

Fighting the flames: Hundreds of emergency services are fighting forest fires in MV

In the southwest of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the fight against ongoing forest fires continues on the second evening. A spokesman for the Ludwigslust-Parchim district of the German Press Agency said that around 500 emergency services recently tried to contain the fires on the former military training area near Lübtheen and on the military site in the Viezer Heide near Hagenow, which was also contaminated with ammunition. Including subordinate forces, for example for logistics, around 800 people are deployed.

The wind, which favors the spread of the flames, eased somewhat towards the evening. The responsible fire chief had said in the afternoon that one was neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.

The impending evacuation of another village has been averted for the time being. One sees from a current evacuation, said the responsible district administrator Stefan Sternberg (SPD) on Tuesday evening after a briefing of the task force. The measures introduced on Tuesday would have worked. That does not mean that there is a fundamental relaxation. Rather, you have done your homework on the corresponding flanks.

Aisles, sprinklers and a fire-fighting helicopter

According to the district spokesman, around 47 hectares were recently affected in Hagenow. In Lübtheen there are 100. Here the fire is in an area surrounded by aisles that were created after it burned in the same region for almost a week in 2019 and the flames covered almost 1000 hectares of forest. Around the fire, firefighters watered the forest floor, using sprinklers and fire trucks. A fire-fighting helicopter helps at a particularly inaccessible spot.

The firefighters have a safety distance of 1000 meters from the fire because of the risk of old grenades exploding. At Hagenow, a Bundeswehr armored clearing vehicle was called in to widen fire protection lanes.

As the EU Commission announced via Twitter, German authorities had asked the EU for support on Tuesday night. Accordingly, it was about mapping using the Copernicus satellite system. The district also pointed out closed roads in the vicinity of the fires. There are also restrictions on bus transport.

On Monday afternoon, fires broke out in quick succession near Lübtheen and in the Viezer Heide near Hagenow - around 30 kilometers north of Lübtheen. On Tuesday morning, old ammunition explosions and freshening winds exacerbated the situation in the forest fire area near Lübtheen. The fire continued to spread in the direction of the evacuated village of Volzrade.

If the distance was still around 800 meters after a cool, windless night, according to Sternberg it was only around 500 meters in the morning. "Each detonation acts as a catalyst," said the district administrator of the Ludwigslust-Parchim district. The thermal imaging camera, which is regularly flown over the area, shows a hot spot and flying sparks after each explosion, which are picked up by the wind and carried on.

Hand in Hand

Prime Minister Manuela Schwesig (SPD) pointed out measures after the great forest fire of 2019 during a visit on Tuesday morning. 15 wells for extinguishing water were drilled, the last one was only finished shortly before Christmas 2022. In addition, 13 all-terrain fire engines with a particularly large water tank were purchased for 3.4 million euros, which are stationed across the country and have now been brought together in southwest Mecklenburg in a very short time. She is very grateful that this works so well, said the head of government. Everyone worked hand in hand.

According to District Administrator Sternberg, it is more difficult than in 2019 that there is still a lot of dead wood from the last fire in the forest and that it is feeding the fire. The heat of the fire is greater, it penetrates deeper into the ground and detonates more ammunition. "We have significantly more explosions than in 2019," he said. Sternberg suspects the cause of the fire was old munitions spontaneously igniting, which had eroded to the surface. This could happen if the hot, dry weather continues. "We're not assuming arson," he said.