Firefighters are fighting a forest fire. © Boris Roessler/dpa/Symbolbild
The forest firefighting at Jüterbog is the first mission of the firefighting aircraft, which has been stationed in the Harz Mountains since April. The Harz district fire chief Kai-Uwe Lohse, who was also on site at Jüterbog, described the operation on Facebook as a "baptism of fire". On Thursday, the fire-fighting aircraft dropped 90,000 liters of water by sunset - the equivalent of around 40 flights, as the district of Harz in Saxony-Anhalt announced on Facebook on Friday.
Jüterbog - Also on Friday, "Florian Harz 25" has been back in the air since 8:00 a.m., it said.
The fire brigade cannot extinguish the forest fire that broke out on Wednesday evening near Jüterbog (Teltow-Fläming district) from the ground, as the area is contaminated with ammunition. On Thursday, a helicopter of the Federal Police also supported the firefighting. On Friday, two firefighting aircraft were deployed.
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 project is also a consequence of the fierce forest fire season in 2022. The aircraft is usually stationed at Ballenstedt airfield in the Harz Mountains.
Pilot Michael Goldhahn and his company, the German Fire Brigade Rescue Squadron, are also involved in coordinating the forest fire operation. The firefighting aircraft stationed in Ballenstedt is the first in Germany at the district level, said Goldhahn in the forest fire area near Jüterbog.
Per flight, a firefighting aircraft drops 2200 liters of water, Goldhahn said. The extinguishing water tank is mounted between the cockpit and the engine at the front. It takes about a minute to fill the tank when the fire brigade is trained. Commenting on the use at Jüterbog, he said: "We can show how effective this is." According to him, the planes fly at an altitude of about 30-50 meters when they drop the depth charges. Fire-retardant additives are not added to the extinguishing water.
So far, Brandenburg has relied primarily on helicopter support for large forest fires. Commenting on the debate on how useful firefighting aircraft are for fighting forest fires, Goldhahn said: "We urgently need both." From his point of view, immediate availability of aircraft is an advantage. Dpa