Emergency services at Grunewald: There were numerous explosions, the extinguishing work continues
Photo: FILIP SINGER / EPA
When the loud bang woke her up, says Anne-Marie Henke, she didn't think anything of it.
"I heard a noise like that back in January, when it came from Spandau." The safety valves of a steam line in a combined heat and power plant had opened, and the bang could be heard from miles away.
Anne-Marie Henke says: "It sounded like fireworks, even now."
She is sitting on her terrace in the Grunewald district of Berlin.
The birds are chirping, a lawnmower is rattling in the distance, otherwise it is quiet.
The last time she heard a bang was yesterday, says Henke, while watering the flowers.
“It's not scary at first.
Unless you know what's stored there."
Around 25 tons of material
Henke has known that for a long time.
She used to work in the neighboring district of Zehlendorf, and in the mornings she rode her bike through the Grunewald.
The bike route leads directly past the ammunition depot.
Henke says that she had to take a detour when the police carried out controlled demolitions there.
Red and white barrier tape has been hanging in front of the driveway again since yesterday.
What happened here on Thursday night was not a controlled demolition, however.
For previously unknown reasons, a fire broke out around the blast site in the Grunewald recreation area in Berlin.
There were numerous explosions, the extinguishing work continues.
According to the Berlin police, around 25 tons of material are stored on the site, including fireworks and World War I ammunition.
"I can't understand why something like this is possible here," says Anne-Marie Henke.
Directly on the busy Avus motorway, not far from the railway tracks, in the middle of Berlin's largest forest: Henke thinks the location factors for a warehouse with highly explosive material could not be worse.
“I think this is getting political now.”
She had to cry first
4.6 kilometers from the explosive site, Christina Leue's guests stay away.
Leue is a waitress in the »Scheune« beer garden in Grunewald, on this Friday afternoon only five tables are occupied.
“The hut is usually packed,” she says, “now everyone calls and cancels their reservations.
And yet we were totally spared here.«
Leue lives in neighboring Dahlem.
When the first explosions occurred around three o'clock on Thursday, her husband was in bed immediately: "He thought: Either someone is celebrating New Year's Eve, or Putin is at the door."
When she heard about the fire the next day, she cried, says Leue, pulling out a newspaper from behind the counter.
The cover photo shows the flames still blazing less than five kilometers away.
"My beloved Grunewald," she sighs, "I just hope the animals made it in time."
"There was nothing more"
The »Colony Hundekehle«, an allotment garden settlement, is located directly on the closed bicycle route and the Avus motorway.
From here it is still 3.5 kilometers to the detonation site, and the fire seems to be further away than it is here, too.
Dieter W., wearing gray overalls and a mottled beard, is sitting in his garden shed in a plot at the end of the row.
A rusty fan spins in the window, the television is on, two faded German flags and a bicycle bell hang on the iron gate.
Will he hear anything about the big fire here?
"Last night there was a bang twice, then a cloud of smoke came up," says Dieter, who doesn't want to give his last name, "that was all."
He doesn't worry about his allotment garden.
The fire brigade made an announcement yesterday, but he didn't listen carefully.
"That was definitely arson, in my opinion!" he calls out, then disappears back into his gazebo.
The Berlin fire brigade is coordinating the operation in a parking lot on the edge of the restricted area.
From here it is about a kilometer to the blast site.
Dozens of emergency vehicles from the Berlin fire brigade line the access road, the police are on site with water cannons, and a Bundeswehr tank drives by.
The police demolition expert had just explored the blasting site in it, they say, and the evaluation is ongoing.
The wildfires have since been largely extinguished.
Only in the southern area there are still fires.
From there, the smoke continues southwest into the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district.
He doesn't pass Anne-Marie Henke's terrace, the »Scheune« beer garden and Dieter W.'s plot.