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Wildfire Near Berlin Spreads Through Dry Forest

A forest is lighted by wildfires near the village Klausdorf, about 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of Berlin, Aug. 24, 2018.

Three villages southwest of Berlin have been evacuated as a wildfire the size of 400 soccer fields spread Friday.

More than 500 people had to leave their homes as a result of the fire in Treuenbrietzen, some 50 kilometers (31 miles) outside of Berlin.

“Our main goal is to protect the evacuated villages from the flames,” local lawmaker Christian Stein told the German news agency dpa.

“We haven’t been able to push back the fire, but none of the buildings have been damaged,” Stein said.

World War II ammo

Police said that their plans to douse the flames have been complicated by old ammunition from World War II, which was still buried in the forests and could explode because of the fires.

The fire started Thursday afternoon. By the evening, the authorities had evacuated the villages of Frohnsdorf, Klausdorf and Tiefenbrunnen.

Overnight, winds blew the smoke to Berlin, where people in some neighborhoods were asked to keep their windows closed. Berlin emergency services received calls from concerned Berliners.

Hot, dry summer

Hundreds of firefighters were on the ground in Treuenbrietzen trying to cut trees to make fire breaks in the forests to prevent the fire from spreading further. They were also fighting the flames with helicopters and water cannons.

Germany has seen a long, hot summer with almost no rain and large parts of the country are on high alert regarding possible wildfires.

“I hope the weather will play along and the winds won’t increase again,” Stein said. “We are yearning for rain.”