Modern Day, News, WW2

WWII Ammunition Dump Explodes in Berlin’s Grunewald Forest

WWII ammunition dump exploded in Berlin on 4th August, 2022.
● The explosion triggered a ferocious wildfire across 15,000 square metres of forest.
● Following the wildfire, temperatures reached up to 40°C across Berlin.
● The cause of the explosion remains undetermined.

The Grunewald is one of Berlin’s largest green spaces. It starts on the city’s western edge and stretches all the way to Potsdam. The 3,000-hectare forest is mainly composed of Betulaceae and Conifer trees. In an unfortunate turn of events, a World War Two ammunition dump in the forest exploded on 4th August, 2022.

The blast sparked a massive wildfire on what was one of the hottest days of the year. This unfortunate turn of events meant that in a matter of a few days, the wildfire spread approximately 15,000 square meters across the forest. As a result, around 100 firefighters battled the inferno for almost a week.

WWII Ammunition Dump Explodes, So, how exactly did it happen?

The Berlin police had stored 30 tonnes of old explosives including hand grenades, World War Two bombs, ammunition, and confiscated fireworks at the blast site. These were buried deep in the Grunewald forest where several unexplained explosives triggered the massive wildfire. As the flames continued to engulf the forest, massive explosions were heard and seen across the city’s edge. Powerful explosions and flying shrapnel significantly delayed a systematic firefighting operation for fear of injury. Thus, the firefighters were ordered to maintain a safe distance of one kilometre from the fire.

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Thomas Kirstein from the Berlin fire department stated, “the situation is dangerous.” He warned nearby residents and reporters to stay away from the forest. However, the fire department assured the wildfire would not affect nearby homes. Nevertheless, the dry conditions hastened the fire across the woods. “The forest is bone dry,” added Jan Thomsen, the spokesman of the Berlin Senate Department for Environment & Climate Protection.

Special Forces

Images from Lake Wannsee show smoke billowing in the distance. Videos circulating over the internet show fireworks and explosions raging over the treetops. Consequently, temperatures reached up to 40°C on Thursday, 4th August 2022. “It is unclear what caused the initial explosions,” a police spokesperson said. Berlin police’s Weapons Disposal Units stored and conducted controlled explosions in the facility. Germany still has thousands of tons of an exploded bombs from RAF and USAAF bombing raids.

It is likely that an uncontrolled explosion led to a chain reaction. Authorities in Berlin used as much help as they could. They called upon special forces from the German Army. Equipped with water cannons, helicopters, and thermal imagery, the task force helped extinguish the wildfire.

After effects

The wildfire was a massive blow to city life. The commuter train service to the city’s west remained closed during the entire operation. Meanwhile, one of the city’s most important motorways, the Avus, completely shut down. The restriction was lifted on Wednesday, 9th August. In a matter of hours, the traffic was slowly restored. On the other hand, the Hüttenweg access and exit road remained closed.

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Eventually, the firefighters also scaled back but continued to extinguish pockets of embers across the forest. The authorities laid a water supply around the burnt area. “Humidification will maintain the temperature,” explained the spokesperson. The special forces inspected the site and confirmed that no danger of explosion remained. Wildfires across Germany are not an uncommon occurrence.

Other than an exhausting heatwave, Berlin has suffered a severe drought. A large forest fire in July burned over 850 hectares in Southern Brandenburg. The Czech Republic’s Bohemian Switzerland National Park fire also made its way to Germany. It seems that global warming is playing a pivotal role in the increased number of such incidents.