Major wildfire in Hesse sparked by lightning strike

Hundreds of firefighters were battling a blaze in a forest area in the central German state of Hesse on Thursday, thought to have been caused by a lightning strike.

Major wildfire in Hesse sparked by lightning strike
Flames could be seen in the forest on Wednesday night. Photo: -/LK HEF-ROF/DPA

The major fire in the Seulingswald hill range, north of Fulda near the A4 Autobahn, covers an area of seven hectares – equal to the size of about 10 football pitches – according to police.

The fire broke out late on Wednesday evening following a thunder storm, reported the Hessenschau. Residents in nearby village Ludwigsau alerted the fire brigade.

Smoke and flames engulfing the forest area could be seen from afar.

SEE ALSO: Wildfires rage during Germany's spring heatwave

The police said that no-one was in danger. Although the fire is now under control, trees are still unstable and could fall. Firefighters are to stay at the scene for several hours, a police spokesman said.

At peak times, 400 emergency workers were involved in fighting the blaze. According to a spokesman for the fire brigade, three firefighters were injured during the operation. They were taken to a hospital with smoke inhalation but were discharged after treatment.

“We assume that lightning struck the forest and caused the fire,” said a police spokesman on Thursday morning.

Emergency services during a briefing. Photo: -/LK HEF-ROF/DPA

High risk of forest fires

There have been several wildfires across Germany due to the spring heatwave that has seen temperatures rise to the high 20s.

Earlier in the week, emergency services battled a huge blaze in a forest area covering about 13 hectares in Thuringia. There have also been fires in Brandenburg and Bavaria.

The German Weather Service (DWD) has put forest fire warnings in place in several parts of the country.

Experts said that higher winds increase the risk of wildfires because it can help spread the blaze.

People in Germany have been warned not to smoke in forests, light any fires in natural areas or throw cigarettes out the windows of cars.

The predicted cooler weather in the coming days is expected to reduce the fire risk. 


Major fire – der Großbrand

Firefighters – die Feuerwehrleute

Kämpfen – to fight

Lightning – der Blitz

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‘Clear indication of climate change’: Germany logs warmest year on record

Looking at data from 2,000 measuring systems around Germany, the German Weather Service (DWD) said that 2022 marked the warmest year on record through November.

'Clear indication of climate change': Germany logs warmest year on record

“Never since 1881 has the period from January to November in Germany been so warm as in 2022,” said DWD spokesman Uwe Kirsche in a statement on Wednesday.

The average temperature for the first eleven months of 2022 was 11.3C, according to the weather service in Offenbach. The previous high was set in 2020, at 11.1C for this period. 

The temperature average for autumn alone was 10.8 degrees – an entire 2C degrees higher than it was between 1961 to 1990, which is used by meteorologists around the globe as a point of reference. 

Clear indication of climate change

The period from January to October was already the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 11.8C. For meteorologists, autumn ends with November, whereas in calendar terms, it lasts until December 21st. 

It is “a clear indication of climate change;” that the warmest October months of the last 140 years all fall in this millennium, said DWD.

READ ALSO: ‘A glimpse into our climate future’: Germany logs warmest October on record

Autumn 2022 could have easily been mistaken for summer in some regions of Germany, it said. The mercury reached the highest in Kleve on the Lower Rhine on September 5th, where temperatures soared to a sizzling 32.3C.

weather Germany september

Beach goers in Westerland, Schleswig-Holstein on September 25th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Rainy regions

The mild weather extended into November, before temperatures took a dramatic dip in many parts of the country. 

In the Oberharz am Brocken, the mercury dropped all the way to -11.6C on November 20th, the nationwide low for this autumn.

READ ALSO: Germany to see first snowfall after mild November

But despite the early warm spells, autumn was also “slightly wetter than average,” according to DWD. An average of around 205 liters of precipitation per squar metre fell across Germany.

That was about twelve percent more than in the reference period from 1961 to 1990. Compared to 1991 to 2020, the increase was about eight percent.

The Black Forest and the Alps received the most rainfall. Utzenfeld in the southern Black Forest had the highest daily precipitation in Germany with 86 litres per square meter on October 14th. In contrast, it remained very dry in the northeast. 

However, there were also a fair few bright, sunny days for people to enjoy. According to DWD, the sun shone for a good 370 hours this autumn – almost 20 percent more than in the period from 1961 to 1990 and 15 percent more than in the period from 1991 to 2020.

The North German Lowlands saw the most sun, with residents there getting a solid 400 hours of sunshine over autumn. 

Temperatures to drop this week

Just in time for the start of the meteorological winter on December 1st, temperatures will drop significantly into the low negatives in many parts of the country.

On the weekend, there is a risk of permafrost in some regions of eastern Germany. The nights will also become increasingly frosty, with snow expected in many regions by the end of the week.

Roads are expected to turn icy, but with no major snowstorms, said DWD.

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?