A week after the devastating forest fires in Brandenburg, another major fire broke out on the Saxony-Brandenburg border. The blaze is under control, but concerns remain that the flames will flare up again.

The large forest fire on the Saxon-Brandenburg border in Gohrischheide and near Mühlberg (Elbe-Elster) was under control on Saturday. “There are no longer open flames there,” reported a spokesman for the Lausitz regional control center in the afternoon.

On the Saxon side, the fire had not yet been completely extinguished. “We still have a fire in the core area in Gohrischheide, which is spreading slowly,” reported operations manager Matthias Heydel from the Zeithain fire brigade.

However, the emergency services could not get there at all, said Heydel. The location of the fire is in the middle of the nature reserve, is overgrown and cannot be reached on paths. The fire is monitored by drone and should be received by the firefighters at a fire break. In favorable wind conditions there is also a chance that this fire will simply die out.

Lots of firefighters still on duty

A total of 800 hectares were affected by the forest fire, 350 of them on the Brandenburg side, said the spokesman for the Lausitz regional control center. In Brandenburg, 250 firefighters were still on duty on Saturday to track down embers. They were to be assisted by a federal police helicopter with a thermal imaging camera. Around 75 firefighters were on site in Saxony.

It is important to use the time window up to the higher temperatures expected for Sunday in order to eliminate as many danger spots as possible, said Norman Barth from the state fire brigade school. “It’s still smoking back there – that could mean open flames and flying sparks again tomorrow,” he explained. This could quickly lead to wildfires again. “It cannot be ruled out that it will still be difficult tomorrow.”

Minister of the Interior: The danger has not yet been eliminated

Brandenburg’s Interior Minister Michael Stübgen (CDU) also warned that the flames could flare up again. There is no longer an open fire, Stübgen said after visiting the technical operations center in Neuburxdorf (Elbe-Elster). “But the heat in the ground is still over 500 degrees and more, because the humus layer is still smoldering and glowing here,” explained the minister. “And so the danger has not yet been eliminated.”

Rainer Engel, a forest fire protection expert from Brandenburg, said the rain on Saturday night brought little relief. Rather, the fire simply burned out, especially on the arable land, when there was no more new food. “A 50-meter-wide protective strip was plowed along the fields to prevent the flames from spreading,” reported Engel. In addition, sprinkler systems would be set up at the edge of the fire area.

The forest fire protection experts were also concerned about the expected high temperatures of over 30 degrees on Sunday. “Then fires can flare up again at any time,” he said. On Saturday, the forest fire situation was comparatively low in all 14 districts due to the high humidity. Already on Monday, Engel expects the second highest warning level 4 nationwide. The risk of forest fires should also increase again in Saxony.

The major fire broke out in Gohrischheide in Saxony on Thursday and spread to Mühlberg (Elbe-Elster) in Brandenburg on Friday. More than 800 hectares were at times in flames. An interim evacuation of the local locations of Kröbeln and Kosilenzien in the city of Bad Liebenwerda was lifted again on Friday evening from 9 p.m.

Just last weekend, two forest fires in Treuenbrietzen and Beelitz, south of Berlin, posed a great danger. Hundreds of firefighters, supported by Bundeswehr soldiers, were deployed. About 200 hectares were in flames at a time. Firefighters continue to monitor developments there.