For the third day in a row, emergency services are to contain the forest fires that have broken out in the south-west of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania on ammunition-loaded terrain. According to the responsible District Administrator Stefan Sternberg (SPD), helicopters with fire-fighting water or for aerial reconnaissance should be used again today after a night-time flight break.
In addition, a possible cancellation of the evacuation order for the village of Volzrade could be decided in the morning. Around 160 residents had to leave their homes there on Monday. The meanwhile threatened evacuation of another village was averted.
On Tuesday evening, District Administrator Sternberg was cautiously optimistic: the measures taken had an effect, and the spread of the flames could be prevented. According to this, around 100 hectares were affected near Lübtheen and up to 47 hectares near Hagenow. The district administrator had spoken of a "lunar landscape" with a view of the burned areas. According to the police, there were no new developments during the night either.
The emergency services benefit from measures taken after the forest fire that raged near Lübtheen for almost a week in 2019 and covered almost 1000 hectares of forest. These include aisles to prevent the flames from spreading and wells for extinguishing water. The aisles are moistened with the help of fire engines and around 60 circular sprinklers. For the firefighters, there is a safety distance of 1000 meters from the fire because of the danger of old grenades exploding.
Other federal states affected by forest fires
In addition to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, other federal states are currently affected by forest fires. The forest fire risk index of the German Weather Service (DWD) shows alarming red to dark red spots on the map of Germany these days. The danger in the north-east was particularly great recently, where the highest warning level five applied in many places.
As in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, some people in Rhineland-Palatinate had to leave their homes as a precaution. Around 50 residents of the municipality of Rodalben in the Southwest Palatinate were affected. The reason for this was that in the fire area near Rodalben there could still be ammunition and duds from the Second World War in the ground.
One of the larger forest fires in recent days is the fire at the former Jüterbog military training area south of Berlin. There has been a fire there since the end of May. The firefighters cannot enter the forest fire area directly because there is still a lot of ammunition in the ground.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) promised the federal states additional help, as reported by the editorial network Germany (RND). "We are prepared to continue to support the federal states with all our strength in fighting forest fires with the federal police and the technical relief organization," Faeser was quoted as saying by the RND.
Demand: greater commitment from the federal government
According to RND, Faeser said that new transport helicopters were being purchased to bring the federal police helicopter fleet up to date. In addition, there is support for the state of Lower Saxony in the operation of two light fire-fighting aircraft for forest fires, which will be available for national and international operations at Braunschweig/Wolfsburg Airport from mid-June.
The German Association of Towns and Municipalities called for greater commitment from the federal government. Large forest fires cannot be fought with municipal funds alone, said general manager Gerd Landsberg, according to RND. For example, the federal government should set up task forces that can react quickly to large vegetation fires or fires at military training areas.
"Clear cost assumption regulations by the federal states are needed in order to free the municipalities from the costs, especially in the case of long-lasting or very complex operations," Landsberg was quoted as saying. The federal government is also obliged to "advance the clearing of former military training areas and gradually reduce the number of potentially munitions contaminated areas".