Of Sabine Klier
The Berlin fire brigade is careful. Despite the initial effect of the extinguishing measures, the fire in Grunewald remains an “enormous danger”. The safety zone of 1,000 meters around the site that has existed since the fire broke out remains in place. BZ documents the flame drama around the blast site.
► First the good news: The fireworkers and experts on site are already a first step further in investigating the cause! Susanne Bauer from the LKA and head of the department of the Forensic Institute for BZ: “We know where the first bang was, but not whether it was the point of outbreak.” It is still unclear what caused the fire.
In addition, since Saturday at 3 p.m., rail traffic with the S-Bahn and long-distance trains along the Avus has been released again. At first, an S-Bahn ran idle on the rails at reduced speed. “We are driving in visual mode,” explained emergency manager Andreas Schornheim from Deutsche Bahn.
“We are looking for foreign bodies that could have been thrown there by the explosions.” Even if the trains are running again, the danger at the blast site in Grunewald has not yet been averted. Therefore, the Avus remains closed.
► On Saturday, 100 emergency services from the Berlin fire brigade, police and technical relief organization were again on duty. The only fire-fighting vehicle that was allowed into the restricted area was a special armored vehicle from a private company, which watered the sources of fire that kept flaring up outside the blasting site.
“Enormous danger” on explosive site
“There are still three hotspots that pose an enormous risk,” said Thomas Kirstein, spokesman for the Berlin fire department. “That’s why we can’t send any emergency services to the blast site yet. There are 25 tons of ammunition, fireworks and explosive ordnance in an interim storage facility.”
After all, the extinguishing and cooling measures of the 800 degree hotspots that have been taking place since Friday are showing initial success. The temperature is measured again and again using drones. “In the meantime, it measures 55 degrees for the objects,” says Kirstein to the BZ
But he warned: “It remains highly dangerous to enter this area. That is why the restricted area of one kilometer remains.”
Nevertheless, careless cyclists kept coming on the forest path on Saturday. The tourists Rosario from Mexico and Patricia from Spain got a huge fright when they suddenly stood in front of the police and fire brigade on Hüttenweg. “We wanted to go to Babelsberg with the bikes. We didn’t know anything about the fire.” Pensioner Hans (72) also came by bike: “I wanted to get an idea of the situation.”
Demolitionist for the first time with a tank on the demolition site
In the afternoon, LKA employee Bauer announces the next step: “We’re going to the demolition site for the first time.” Demolitionist Dietmar Püpke (58) and his team are responsible for this, who don’t walk in there, but roll in in a fox tank. “It is clarified what is on the way so that the extinguishing robot can then be sent in there. Then the situation will be reassessed.”
Nobody could say on Saturday when the Avus will be passable again. “We’re not that far yet,” said fire chief Karsten Homrighausen.
More and more criticism of the explosive site location
Criticism about the location of the Berlin explosive site is getting louder and louder. It became necessary after the Second World War because the city was littered with duds, grenades and ammunition. In 1950 it was officially set up by the Allies in Grunewald. Before that there were also explosive sites in Marzahn and Wilmersdorf.
Since then, ammunition has been recovered from the ground in Berlin almost every day and brought to Grunewald in more than 900 trips a year. Twice a year, in spring and autumn (outside of these seasons it is too dry and the risk of fire too high), detonations are carried out to render the highly explosive dangerous goods harmless. Illegal pyrotechnics are also disposed of in this way. That is also the reason why there was currently a lot of ammunition there with 25 tons.
Berlin is so densely populated that there is no alternative location in the city. Attempts by the Senate to find a suitable blasting site in the surrounding area have always been rejected by the Brandenburg state government.
At the same time, our neighboring country also has to contend with the dangerous remnants of the war. According to estimates by the State Ministry of the Interior, 12 percent of the Brandenburg forest floor is still contaminated with ammunition…