BERLIN / FALKENBERG / BAD SCHANDAU Joachim Wolff could write a book about the last 48 hours. A farmer from Kölsy looks at the burned area in front of his stable on Wednesday and thanks the firefighters in the air once again. They have just finished putting out the remaining firefighting work outside his farm. Bundeswehr firefighting helicopters fly over the livestock farm towards the forest fire.
The helpers have been returning to action for hours to stop the great fire in the Elbe-Elster county over 800 hectares. The fire continues on 500 hectares. County Fire Chief Steffen Ludewig sounds a little more optimistic when he says: “The fire is under control.” The exhaustive work of hundreds of firefighters and other emergency services in the forest fire areas of southern Brandenburg and in the Saxon Switzerland National Park has paid off. The situation is still tense, he said Wednesday.
The fire that broke out in Brandenburg on Monday and quickly tore forests, meadows and fields to the size of almost 1,200 football fields due to strong winds, also affected the Wolff family farm. “We said we wouldn’t leave our animals alone,” said the 65-year-old. The farm is his life’s work, he has lived there with his wife Bärbel and two children since 1993.
On Wednesday, vehicles from the Federal Technical Assistance Agency (THW) cross wide corridors in the forest so that firefighters’ rescue vehicles can reach the scene of the fire. Fortunately, the wind continued to blow, blowing much weaker, said Philipp Haase, deputy forest fire inspector in Brandenburg. However, he still expects a week of surgery before all the coals go out.
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“Fire is generally under control, but the danger has not yet been banned because there is a lot of heat that flares up again and again,” Haase emphasized. “Also, the fire helicopters did a very good job.” Some machines were retired on Wednesday because they were no longer needed.
After the fire broke out, Wolff and his neighbors sat down in their farm machines and initially helped the fire departments. It worked at first, but then a storm broke out that carried the fire further and further, reports the farmer. The paddocks were on fire.
Then he went to the family and animals, there was a barrage of fire in sight. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Wolff. “The flames were stopped ten meters outside our yard. It was really very close, it was on fire. He is convinced that if the fire department had not worked so hard, his company would not exist anymore.
The fight against flames in the Saxon Switzerland National Park on Wednesday focused on two of the five fire zones, Thomas Kunz, spokesman for the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern District Office, said. “The area is uneven and not easily accessible.” In addition, dead wood and the weather made it difficult to extinguish the fires. Almost 150 firefighters were on duty on Wednesday.
The fire broke out in the Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic over the weekend, and on Monday it spread to the Saxon Switzerland National Park. It currently covers approximately 250 hectares. In some areas, the water supply is problematic – long hoses from the Elbe and Kirnitzsch must be laid. Additionally, the extinguishing water is delivered to the premises by tankers.
Around 450 firefighters in the Czech Republic continued to fight one of the largest forest fires in the country’s history near the German border. The flames raged over an area of about ten square kilometers, a spokesman for emergency services said Wednesday. However, further spread was stopped. So far, around 450 people have had to leave their homes and apartments.
A catastrophic alert has been going on in Bad Schandau on the German side since Tuesday. Tourists should avoid this area. In the Saxon Switzerland-Osterzgebirge district, forests are no longer allowed to enter until further notice – but not all do so.
On Tuesday, 40 people were in the fields and paths at the edge of the woods in Reinhardtsdorf-Schöna (Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains), police said on Wednesday. They were informed of the ban and expelled from the site. A complaint was filed against ten people who used the blocked routes.
Schmilka, a district of Bad Schandau on the German-Czech border, looks deserted on Wednesday. “Would you spend your vacation here if the helicopters had been circling all day?” Asked Frank Demmer, Technical Director of Wärmer, which oversees the eco-friendly hotel, restaurants, mill and brewery in Schmilka, among others.
Of course, the guests would leave now or cancel. – We cannot force anyone to stay or come here. Holidaymakers are afraid for their children and that everything will only get worse – reports Demmer. She tries to keep her ear open to her guests and soothe them.
Biohotel employs several employees from the neighboring Czech Republic. “It looks a lot worse for us,” said the young woman behind the counter. Tourism in the Czech Republic has only just got back on its feet after two years of the crown pandemic. Now they are trying their best to look after the guests, at least in Schmilka.