Fires in Germany burn near Königsberg and Wernigerode

In Germany, the Harz Mountain Fire has forced tourist evacuations; the fire reportedly started at the Königsberg peak in northern Germany on Sundayl Another fire was ignited in the eastern state of Brandenburg on Wednesday and it is still growing. Deutsche Welle (DW) reported that near the town of Wernigerode in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, a fire in the Harz mountains had been contained. About 100 people were evacuated from the Brocken peak, the highest point in northern Germany and a popular attraction famed for its literary connections.

A Canadair CL-215 water bomber plane dropping a load of water on a forest fire.  Wikipedia Commons photo
A Canadair CL-215 waterbomber dropping a load on a fire.  Wikipedia Commons photo

ABC News reported that the wildfire on the German military training site is “contaminated” with ammunition. Officials say strong winds have fanned flames at the fire near Jueterbog, south of Berlin, and because the area contains large amounts of ammunition, the fire has doubled in size. Firefighters are working to contain the fire but are avoiding the training grounds where explosions were heard Monday, according to ABC News.

Weeks of dry weather have increased the risk of wildfires in eastern Germany, with some regions on the second-highest alert level. A fire near Jueterbog, south of Berlin, was burning for days as authorities scrambled to keep it from reaching surrounding villages.

Meteorologists say that rain predicted for the coming days may lower the threat of wildfires. CTIF, the Internation Association for Fire and Rescue Services, reported that Europe is expecting that 2023 will be extremely hot, with droughts and record forest fires. 2022 was a year of weather records in Europe; the summer was record-hot, with temperatures above 45°C (113°F) with numerous heat-related deaths, along with the drought and fires.

European Environment AgencyThe 2022 annual report from the EU’s environmental monitoring program Copernicus shows that scientists believe the extreme heat will get even worse in southern Europe. Britain recorded summer temperatures exceeding 40°C for the first time ever in July 2022. Britain’s heatwave was only one of many; the highest temperature measured was in Portugal at 47°C.

The Copernicus program collects and transforms data from multiple sources (e.g. satellites and in-situ or non-space measurements) into operational services to provide information about the earth’s land, oceans, and atmosphere, and to monitor climate change, support European emergency management, and safeguard civil security.