The firefighters spent Thursday night trying to control flames which had spread to an area covering 50 hectares close to a motorway junction near Potsdam. On Friday morning, authorities announced that the fire no longer posed an immediate threat to the nearby town of Fichtenwalde.
Yet in a statement on Facebook on Friday morning, the Fichtenwalde fire brigade said that the operation was still “in full flow”, as the flames continued to rage.
The fire started at Autobahn A9 and quickly spread westward. Photo: DPA
Firefighters had their work cut out on Thursday night, and had to rely on aerial assistance from federal police and military helicopters, before a fire-fighting tank arrived at the scene on Friday.
They were further hampered by repeated explosions reportedly caused by World War II ammunition buried in the ground.
But the firefighters were still able to bring the flames under control, using – among other things – a so-called foam carpet was used to create a barrier along the European cycle path.
The Autobahn A9 was closed off as firefighters tried to get the flames under control. Photo: DPA
The situation at the Potsdam motorway junction remains precarious, however, warned Brandenburg’s forest fire protection officer Raimund Engel.
“The wind will increase again in the morning hours, and we need to be prepared to extinguish flames as they spread,” said Engel on Friday in the RBB-Inforadio.
The fire had started at Autobahn 9 for unknown reasons, according to Engel, tearing rapidly through the mass of pine trees westward to the centre of Beelitz, a small town known for its asparagus.
A planned evacuation of Fichtenwalde was cancelled on Thursday evening. “The danger has been averted for the time being,” said Stein, but warned that residents should still be ready to leave.
Potsdam's city centre was also largely closed on Thursday evening, and there were motorway closures on the A9 from Berlin to Leipzig and the Berlin ring road on Friday, as well as traffic jams on the A2 between Berlin and Hanover. By Friday afternoon, the Tagesspiegel reported, traffic was once again flowing in the direction of Berlin.
For several days, there has been a high risk of forest fires through Brandenburg due to high temperatures and a drought. The risk of further forest fires remains in Brandenburg where, along with neighbouring Berlin, temperatures could reach up to 34 degrees, according to the German Weather Service (DWD).