At the beginning of March this year, forest fire danger level 3 had already been declared in parts of Brandenburg, but then, fortunately for nature and firefighters, an unusually long period of rain began. "That's why we're only now entering a real danger situation for the first time in 2021," says Brandenburg's forest fire protection officer Raimund Engel: "Currently, the second-highest forest fire danger level 4 applies in almost all districts, and in some, such as Dahme-Spreewald, it's even already 5. After all, it's not quite that hot yet, but that may change as early as next week."
In fact, after these somewhat cooler weekends, temperatures are expected to climb near the 30-degree mark. Then the already high risk of forest fires would quickly increase even further, says a spokesman for the Lausitz control center in Cottbus: "That fires break out happens simply because of the World War II ammunition still lying around in our forests, but of course also because of intentional or negligent arson - for example, when cars are parked on forest soil."
So far this year, however, there have been no major operations even in the particularly endangered south of Brandenburg, says the control center spokesman. Thus burned for instance in the past week in the district Dahme Spreewald approximately 2000 square meters in the Mittenwalder local part Motzen and approximately 1000 square meters in the Teupitzer local part Egsdorf.Across the country, 80 fires have broken out since the beginning of the year, but only on smaller areas. "In previous years, we already had twice as many fires with much larger dimensions around this time," says Engel.
For rescue workers, that's a relief they could use: Many of them, he said, have been involved in swine fever control or Corona pandemic measures, such as supporting vaccination centers, in recent months."That's another reason why every day that there is no fire is good," says Raimund Engel. Of course, he says, they are well prepared for what may come. The district fire chiefs have their preparedness plans ready, he says, and the early warning system has been modernized with funding from the EU.
For example, instead of six forest fire centers, there are now only two: the one for the north of the state in Eberswalde and the one for the south in Wünsdorf. "This makes communication easier and also saves a lot of finances," says Engel. The technical requirements are high - after all, more than 100 sensors detect rising smoke throughout the state and report it to the two centers, which then alert fire and disaster control.The smoke does not always actually conceal a fire, says the spokesman for the Lusatia control center: "It can happen that a field is being harvested and massive amounts of dust are released. But also for the control center Lausitz the reduction on two forest fire centers is because of the now no longer changing regional contact persons a work relief. And they need it badly, because the number of rescue missions has risen to 63,000 so far this year, an increase of five percent even without major forest fires.
Image by Enrique Lopez Garre