Residents Evacuated as Wildfires Spark UXO Threat

FIVE HUNDRED residents were evacuated from three villages in August amid fears a huge wildfire near Berlin would set off unexploded ordnance (UXO).

Several explosions were heard in the forest of Treuenbrietzen – near Potsdam, around 31 miles from the German capital, limiting the complicated firefighting operation to containment alone. However, no serious damage was reported.

Dozens of unexploded devices were revealed by falling water levels in rivers, lakes, and reservoirs during an unusually warm summer in Germany. So far, 22 devices – mostly grenades or discarded mines – have been removed from the River Elbe alone.

Germany was heavily bombed by the Allies during the Second World War, and as Soviet and Western Allied ground forces closed in, German troops were engaged in frantic battles on home soil. Unexploded munition finds are common with around 2,000 tons of unexploded munitions unearthed there each year.

Berlin’s central train station was evacuated in April following the discovery of a 1,000lb bomb, believed to have been dropped by the RAF. In May, another British bomb – a 500lb device – was found under rubble in Dresden. The bomb partially exploded during efforts to make it safe, thankfully without injury. Explosive content that survived the blast and subsequent blaze was defused by a robot.