Exploding WWII Munitions Hamper Firefighters Near Berlin

A large wildfire 30 miles southwest of Berlin has proven far more dangerous than usual for the 550 firemen battling the blaze.  The area, which was the site of heavy fighting between the Soviet Red Army and Werhmacht soldiers during the Battle of Berlin. Untold numbers of grenades, mortar shells, mines, and ammunition stores still litter the region. The searing heat from the fire, which is spread over an area larger than 500 soccer fields, is exploding these munitions, putting the lives of the firefighters in danger.

As a result, the fire is having to be fought from roads and forest ranger trails, with the assistance of two helicopters which are fetching giant buckets of water from a nearby rivier to drop on the blaze. Despite the endless explosions from the rusted, 73-year-old ordnance, the fire has been brought mostly under control, saving the three villages in its path.

All of Europe is facing a massive drought this summer, and usually green forests are dead and dry. River levels are falling to points not seen in decades.

LA Times article on the story.

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