Hundreds evacuated as wildfire rages through eastern Germany
Hundreds of people in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had to evacuate their homes due to a raging forest fire.
The fire, which started Sunday, had swept through 480 hectares of forest by Monday morning, according to local firefighters.
The blaze is the "largest in the history of Meckenburg-Western Pomerania," said state environment minister Till Backhaus.
It started on the former military training area in the community of Lübtheen and spread "very, very fast,” said the spokesman of the local fire command on Sunday evening.
Throughout the the area, which was also bombed heavily during World War II, fire-fighting work is difficult because of ammunition, grenades and explosives still found there, a spokesman for the emergency forces said.
During Sunday night and in the early hours of Monday, the authorities evacuated three villages immediately adjacent to the fire as a precaution. District Administrator Stefan Sernberg (SPD) said that a total of 650 people had been affected so far.
They included 280 people in the small community of Alt Jubel, situated about 50 kilometres southwest of the state capital of Schwerin, who all had to be evacuated, reported firefighters. Among them were 100 children at a summer camp.
A total of 350 firemen have been called on to distinguish the blaze, and crews from Lower Saxony have also been called on to help.
Among other things, an armoured fire fighting vehicle was in use. Two police helicopters were also used to extinguish the fire from the air.
Spreading to Saxony
The fire brigades in Leipzig and Dresden received numerous calls from citizens Monday morning who could detect the smoke from 400 kilometres away.
They reported that there was a strong smell of smoke, but nowhere burning, said a spokesperson for the rescue centre in Leipzig.
In Dresden, too, the smell spread from north to south across the entire city.
There had been a fire at the same location in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania only a few days ago.
On Friday, however, the authorities gave the all-clear and announced that the fire had been extinguished.
Firefighters have also been battling various forest fires during Germany's heatwave.
The following map explains where fire danger is high in Germany as of July 1st, with green being in the lowest risk and red being the highest.