There is no real relaxation in sight in Saxon Switzerland, Brandenburg or the Czech Republic. The expected rain did not come.
With forest fires in the Czech Republic and Germany in Saxon Switzerland and the north of the Free State, the situation remained tense over the weekend. The expected continuous rain did not help firefighters. On Saturday alone it rained for about a quarter of an hour in the sandstone mountains of the Elbe and a little longer in northern Saxony. The only effect was that, because of the precipitation, smoke rose from the embers and they became visible.
“If the climate doesn’t change, there’s no chance of improvement,” said Thomas Kunz, a spokesman for the Saxon Switzerland-Eastern Ore Mountains district. The end of the operation is not in sight. “We no longer calculate in days, we calculate in weeks.” Meanwhile, wildfires continued in southern Brandenburg and the Czech Republic and were demanding everything from firefighting teams. On the Czech side, the extent of the fire is even greater: there, the flames spread over an area of good 1,000 hectares, and 750 firefighters from all over the Czech Republic are on site.
Work is progressing slowly
“Because of the challenging terrain, work is progressing relatively slowly,” an emergency services spokeswoman said Sunday on CT public television. So far, eight emergency services have been injured on the Czech side, several of them seriously. Parts of the forested area are difficult to access – including areas on the German-Czech border and the so-called deep valley. Access to large parts of the national park area was prohibited to keep spectators away.
According to Kunz, the fire in the back of Saxon Switzerland, as expected, has penetrated up to half a meter deep into the humus layer of the soil and is spreading there. Therefore, attempts are now being made to erect barriers on forest paths, for example. “For this, the soil is opened up and a mixture of water and a so-called wetting agent is introduced”, explained the district spokesperson. The resulting foam can penetrate the soil better. Sachsenforst employees are sorting dead wood from adjacent forest areas. In addition, rangers from Saxon Switzerland National Park are on-site to support emergency services with their local knowledge.
According to the district office, 360 people were on duty on Sunday morning, and the number is expected to increase to 500 during the day. “You are dealing with a very dynamic fire, which makes the situation so complicated,” Kunz said. Firefighting helicopters and two helicopters were present to put out the fires.
Fire broke out in the National Park
The fire started in Bohemian Switzerland National Park in the Czech Republic last weekend and spread to Saxon Switzerland National Park on Monday. An area of around 150 hectares is now affected – an area as large as the island of Heligoland. Disaster alert applies to Bad Schandau and Sebnitz. Four firefighters have been injured on the Saxon side so far, two of them had to be hospitalized.
Forest fire on the national border was not banned even on the seventh day after the fire started. According to the district, the forces in the Elba-Elster district, south of Brandenburg, have been increased from 160 to 250. They continue to fight nests of embers on 500 hectares. Firefighters fear the fire could get worse for days. Some helpers brought rain, which soaked the ground about two inches deep. At the same time, the precipitation showed hot spots in the surroundings, because particularly heavy smoke had formed there.