German munitions storage site explodes, touching off forest fire in Berlin

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Aug. 4 (UPI) — A munitions storage site has exploded in Germany, touching off a fire in Berlin’s Grunewald Forest Thursday. Firefighters were staying more than half a mile away from the fire due to the threat of further explosions.

Berlin Fire Department spokesman James Klein said that the stored ordnance poses a challenge to firefighters.

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“There are different items stored there, so there can be smaller and larger explosions. We are optimistic, because the heavy ordnance also located there, is stored accordingly, cooled and in steel containers, so that we can protect them,” Klein told Deutsche Welle.

The Berlin Fire Brigade said in a statement it has 140 people at the fire with a 1,000 meter restricted zone around the blast site.

The statement said armored vehicles from the Bundeswehr — German armed forces — are on site and will investigate within the restricted area at a later date.

Hot and dry conditions are exacerbating the fire and the Autobahn highway between Spanisher Alle and Huttenweg was closed. A railway line between the Grunewald and Nikolassee stations is also closed, according to the Berlin Fire Brigade.

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Thick smoke could be seen from several parts of Berlin, according to the Berlin Spectator. According to the Berlin Fire Department, homes are not in danger.

Shortly before noon local time, the situation was still out of control, with occasional explosions at the ammunition site. The cause of the explosions has not yet been determined.

Berlin is experiencing very hot and dry conditions. The Grunewald Forest is in the southwestern part of Berlin, between the city center and Potsdam.