BBC Weather: Europe heatwave to 'intensify' across region
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Fires have broken out across the country, exacerbated by the extreme hot weather seen on the continent in recent weeks. Firefighters are attempting to tackle infernos in Saxony and Brandenburg, with helicopters and hundreds of emergency personnel being drafted in. Saxony’s Environment Minister has described the extent of the forest fires as “devastating”.
In Brandenburg, a forest and meadow area of 8.5 square kilometres was alight – almost the size of 1,200 football fields.
Meanwhile, a disaster alert has been issued for the Saxon Switzerland National Park.
At last count, 254 firefighters and forces of the federal and state police were on the scene.
Two water cannons, each with a capacity of 10,000 litres, and two helicopters were called in.
Four Bundeswehr helicopters were also on duty.
Speaking about the blaze, Saxony’s Environment Minister Wolfram Günther said: “The current forest fire season in Saxony is devastating.
“This forest fire is a tragedy for the region and for all people who live from tourism.”
Mr Günther asked members of the public to avoid the fire area, adding: “We are experiencing the consequences of the climate crisis here with drought, heat and dried up forests.”
In Brandenberg, 450 emergency personnel battled an 850-hectare fire on Tuesday, with Wind gusts of up to 60 kilometres per hour exacerbating the blaze.
Two Bundeswehr fire-fighting helicopters were called in to support the fire brigades from the air, with three more on standby to assist.
A police helicopter was also called in to help.
Forest fire expert Philipp Haase said the Brandenberg fire is different from other fires, as it burns above the tops of trees at a height of up to 25 metres.
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He explained: “We are talking about a tree crown fire here, the fire runs from crown to crown and finds a lot of combustible material like needles.”
At this height, the wind speeds are higher than on the forest floor, meaning the flames can spread faster.
According to the state fire brigade association, the fire is the largest seen in the region this year.
The fires in both Brandenburg and Saxony are currently out of control and could take weeks to resolve, according to German outlet NTV.
Fires have been raging across Europe, as the continent battles an extreme heatwave and very little rainfall.
Spain, France, Greece and the UK have all been impacted by the fires.
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.
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