Prague — Hundreds of firefighters were battling wildfires in eastern Germany and the neighboring Czech Republic as tourist and residential areas were evacuated on Tuesday.
A large wildfire spreads rapidly in the eastern German state of Brandenburg, where firefighters must pay particular attention because old World War II ammunition is still buried there. It is an area with many
Massive fires in the Elbe-Elster district have already destroyed an area of about 850 hectares and continue to spread rapidly due to shifting wind gusts.
Seven firefighters were injured, four of whom had to be treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. No residents were injured, but a pig farm burned down and several animals died.
The state Explosive Ordnance Disposal Service has designated a small area near Rehfeld village as a place where old ammunition can be buried, Deputy Forest Fire Officer Philipp Haase told dpa. Two German firefighting helicopters were attempting to extinguish the blaze from above, as firefighters were not allowed into the area due to the danger of exploding ammunition.
Officials said it was not clear when the fires could be brought under control. More than 350 firefighters were battling the blaze and about 300 people had to be evacuated from various villages.
“The situation is still serious. There are still pockets of fire,” local fire chief Steffen Ludevik told dpa.
Further southeast, firefighters from several countries are working together to fight fires in a national park in the northern part of the Czech Republic that extends into neighboring Germany’s Saxony state.
A fire at a park in Bohemian Switzerland broke out on Sunday and was nearly extinguished before windy weather spread again Monday afternoon and evening. Despite their efforts, firefighters said the fire spread from 30 hectares to 1,000 hectares early Tuesday.
No injuries were reported, but about 100 people had to be evacuated from the Czech town of Vysokalipa on Tuesday night.
About 80 people have been evacuated from the border town of Frensco so far, according to firefighter spokesman Lucas Murban, and many more have fled the village of Mezna, where homes have been destroyed or damaged by the blaze.
Dozens of German children have been evacuated from summer camps on the Czech side of the border and sent back to Germany.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Minister of the Interior Vit Raksan were visiting the region on Tuesday.
Laksan said about 400 firefighters were active and the blaze was not under control by noon Tuesday.
“The situation is very serious.
Poland and Slovakia said they would send helicopters, and Italy provided special Canadair planes designed for firefighting.
The German military has announced that it will send four helicopters to the border area to combat the blaze, the dpa reported.
According to the Czech Institute of Hydrometeorology, the smoke extends more than 100 kilometers from the blaze.
Kirsten Grieshaber reports from Berlin.
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