A drone footage shows a forest fire in an ammunition-contaminated area near Jüterbog. © District of Teltow Fläming/dpa
So far, helicopters have supported the fire brigades in the event of large forest fires in Brandenburg. Now a firefighting aircraft from the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt is also being used. Firefighting in ammunition-contaminated areas could take even longer.
Jüterbog - A forest fire in an ammunition-contaminated area near Jüterbog (Teltow-Fläming) was fought exclusively from the air on Thursday. The fire broke out on Wednesday evening at a former military training area. Because of the danger posed by old ammunition there, the fire brigade could not intervene from the ground, as the district announced. Initially, a requested fire-fighting aircraft from the Harz Mountains was deployed, then a helicopter from the Federal Police was added, as fire brigade operations manager Rico Valentin said. The fire had spread to around 13 hectares on Thursday. "The spread is increasing moderately and still slowly," Valentin said. Also on Friday, the extinguishing operation from the air should continue.
On the site of the former military training area, there had been repeated fires in the past. In 2019, a fire covered up to 750 hectares of forest there, according to the county.
On Thursday evening, according to the fire brigade operations manager, a second firefighting aircraft should arrive. Valentin expects two machines to drop water on the burning area on Friday. It is not yet clear whether a helicopter will continue to be available. On Friday night, a fire watch was to be set up.
The risk of forest fires in Brandenburg is increasing due to the weather. "With every day that there is no precipitation, the forest fire danger situation will increase," said the country's forest fire protection officer, Raimund Engel. So far, the fires have been detected early and extinguished in time.
In the case of large forest fires in Brandenburg, helicopters of the Bundeswehr have so far been used to extinguish the fire from the air. "This is an experiment that we are carrying out here," Valentin said of the still new use of aircraft. "We are thus gathering initial insights." The firefighting aircraft comes from the Harz Mountains in Saxony-Anhalt. The Harz district fire chief Kai-Uwe Lohse said that the request was received on Wednesday evening - after the necessary preparations, the plane took off on Thursday morning.
According to the district, the affected forest area is located near the village of Felgentreu. Housing estates are quite far away and not in danger, it was said in the morning by the fire brigade regional control center. Head of operations Valentin reported detonations on the burning and ammunition-laden site. But they were not audible from afar.
The district of Harz has signed a contract with a Polish firefighting aircraft operator that guarantees round-the-clock operational readiness during the forest fire season. According to the district, this costs 150,000 euros per season. The Polish firefighting aircraft is intended to provide unbureaucratic and rapid support to the firefighters on the ground. This is also a consequence of the violent forest fire season in 2022. The aircraft is usually stationed at Ballenstedt airfield (Harz district).
The Brandenburg State Fire Brigade Association sees no urgent need for firefighting aircraft and considers helicopter deployment to be more sensible. A different strategy is being pursued when fighting fires from the air, the head of the state fire brigade, Rolf Fünning, said in April. However, the fire brigade will not "fundamentally exclude" this possibility of firefighting. The Brandenburg topography, the easier extinguishing water intake as well as purchases already made made the firefighting via firefighting helicopter more sensible, it said. Dpa