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.

Fire possibly caused by sky lantern kills 30 animals in zoo

Among the dead are orangutans, gorillas, a chimpanzee and several monkeys

Krefeld Zoom fire sky lantern
Krefeld Zoo. Photo by Alexander Forstreuter


BERLIN: A fire at a zoo in western Germany in the first minutes of 2020 killed more than 30 animals, including apes, monkeys, bats and birds, authorities said. Police said the fire may have been caused by sky lanterns launched to celebrate the new year.

Several witnesses reported that they had seen the cylindrical paper lanterns with little fires inside flying in the night sky shortly after midnight Wednesday near the Krefeld zoo, Gerd Hoppmann, the city’s head of criminal police told reporters.

“People reported seeing those sky lanterns flying at low altitude near the zoo and then it started burning,” Hoppmann said.
Police and firefighters received the first emergency calls at 12:38 a.m.

The zoo near the Dutch border said that the entire ape house burned down and more than 30 animals, including five orangutans, two gorillas, a chimpanzee and several monkeys, as well as fruit bats and birds, were killed.

Only two chimpanzees could be rescued from the flames by firefighters. They suffered burns but are in stable condition, zoo director Wolfgang Dressen said.

Wildfire Today has published many articles about fires caused by sky lanterns. These dangerous devices use burning material to loft a small paper or plastic hot air balloon into the air. The perpetrator has no control over where it lands. Usually the fire goes out before it hits the ground, but not always. Sometimes the envelope catches fire while in flight or it can get blown down to the ground or on the roof of a structure by the wind. Numerous fires have been started by sky lanterns. Even if they don’t ignite a fire, they leave litter on the ground. Metal parts have been picked up by hay balers causing serious problems when fed to livestock. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries.

UPDATE January 2, 2020. From NBCDFW:  “Three women are under investigation in Germany for launching paper sky lanterns for the new year which apparently ignited a devastating fire that killed more than 30 animals at a zoo, officials said Thursday.”

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Robert. Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Germany: Largest wildfire in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s history brought under control

wildfire Germany
Firefighters battle a wildfire in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Screen grab from Tagesschau video.

The largest fire in the recorded history of Germany’s state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has been brought under control. The fire started last week and was thought to have been suppressed on Friday, but on Sunday it either flared up again or was reignited by an arsonist, authorities said.

Below is an excerpt from

“We have the fire under control now,” said district administrator Stefan Sternberg. The fire has been contained on all sides, he added. Of the 1,200 hectares (2,965 acres) affected, 700 hectares were still burning, Sternburg said on Wednesday morning. The reduction was partially due to the lower temperatures overnight and it was possible some fires could be fanned by higher, daytime temperatures.

The fires had been contained by creating avenues and pathways between wooded areas. There was some concern Wednesday that winds could cause the fires to move over the gaps.With more than 2,000 firefighters and rescue crews working around the clock, the military commander in the state said emergency forces were “going from defense to offense” to extinguish the fire. Armored recovery vehicles were deployed to clear paths through the forest for firefighters, who have had to take extra precautions to avoid the old munitions. Up to eight firefighting helicopters supported the operation.

The fire burned in an area that was bombed heavily during World War II and still has ammunition, mines, grenades and explosives. Since then the military has used the area for training, adding still more unexploded ordnance.

The video below is narrated in German, but non-German speakers can skip through and view interesting scenes of firefighting in Europe.

wildfire Germany
Soldiers rig a water bucket before it is attached to a helicopter for battling a fire in Germany. Screen grab from Tagesschau video.
wildfire Germany
Map showing the location of the wildfire in Germany. Copernicus Emergency Management Service.

Wildfire in Germany sets off WWII ammunition

Firefighters are being kept out of the area

Firefighters in Germany are having to deal with a unique hazard at a wildfire 30 miles southwest of Berlin — old rusting ammunition left over from World War II. After several detonations, firefighters are not being allowed to enter certain areas. They are using water-dropping helicopters and water cannons on fire engines to slow the fire in the dangerous areas.

The fire has burned approximately 660 acres.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the munitions that are exploding include grenades. Below is an excerpt from their article:

Some of the heaviest fighting in World War II took place in the forests outside Berlin, starting with the battle at the Seelow Heights on April 16, 1945. More than 2.5 million Soviets launched their attack on and around Berlin with some 6,000 tanks and 7,000 warplanes. The area was left littered with ammunition, grenades and other explosives.

Some of the munitions and ordnance in the area could also have been left behind by Soviet troops who occupied and engaged in “war games” with training exercises in the forests around Berlin during the Cold War.

In July firefighters in Germany also had to contend with WWII munitions at a fire near Fichtenwalde.

German artist’s painting of an S-2

Painting of an S-2, by Sven Dittler
Painting of an S-2 air tanker, by German artist Sven Dittler. (click to see larger version)

We received this message from Sven Dittler today, along with the photo of a painting.

Hello from Germany,
I was impressed of your work. So I must paint a picture for all of you.
Hope you enjoy it.
Best Regards


Thank you Sven. We WILL enjoy it.

Wildfires in central Europe

Hot, dry weather over the last several weeks has led to numerous wildfires in central Europe, especially in Austria and southern Germany, Georg, one of our loyal readers in Germany tells us. Some of the fires are in steep terrain, he said. Thanks Georg!

He sent us some links to sites with photos and descriptions (in German) of recent wildfires. (Thankfully, the photos are in English 😉  )

  • Here’s one
  • At this fire there were about 250 firefighters and 50 soldiers.
  • About 680 firefighters were assigned to a third fire, along with 3 helicopters and 3 Single Engine Air Tankers.

The images below are screen grabs from the video you’ll see farther down.

fire Engine on road Firefighters along a fence

Firefighters refill a helicopter bucket
Firefighters use two hoses to refill the bucket of a hovering helicopter.
Firefighters refill a helicopter bucket
Firefighters use two hoses to refill the bucket of a hovering helicopter.

Google Translate took a stab at translating the description of the above video:

From the fire of pine forest between Wiener Neustadt and Weikersdorf was affected by the fire, said Alexander Nittner by the State Fire Command in Tulln: “The big challenge for the firefighters is that the wind constantly rotates, the approach is extremely difficult and already about 15 acres forest on fire. “by Thursday evening, the fire spread to an area of ​​20 hectares.