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Forest fire hits northern Germany's highest peak

September 4, 2022

Hundreds of tourists were evacuated after thick smoke engulfed an area south of the summit of the Brocken mountain. Located in the Harz National Park, the area has seen several wildfires this year.

Smoke rises from a forest at the Brocken peak in the Herz National Park on September 3, 2022
The fire broke out on Saturday afternoon below the summit of the Brocken peakImage: Matthias Bein/dpa/picture alliance

The Brocken mountain, northern Germany's highest peak, was evacuated on Saturday after being hit by a second forest fire in weeks, local media reported.

Brocken sits in the Harz mountain range in the state of Saxony-Anhalt.

What do we know about the fire?

Regional public broadcaster MDR said the fast-spreading blaze broke out on Saturday afternoon on the southern side of the 1,142-meter (3,747-foot) high summit.

Heavy smoke engulfed an area along the Goetheweg or Goethe Path, which is one of the most frequented hiking trails in the park.

MDR cited the local fire department as saying that a two-hectare (five-acre) area near the Brocken railway line was ablaze.

Buses were organized to help hundreds of hikers and other excursionists to leave the area. Some were brought down via the Brocken railway.

Local media said the terrain made work to put out the fire difficult.

Ariane Hofmann, a spokeswoman for the nearby town of Wernigerode said the blaze had still not been extinguished on Saturday evening, more than six hours after it was first reported.

Tourists wait to board an evacuation bus at Mount Brocken in Saxony-Anhalt on September 3, 2022
Around 300 tourists were evacuated by bus, while residents of a nearby hotel were allowed to stayImage: Matthias Bein/dpa/picture alliance

Hofmann said around 250 firefighters would continue to work through the night.

She added that four helicopters from Saxony-Anhalt would be deployed early Sunday morning and two other helicopters and a circular sprinkler device had been requested from Lower Saxony.

Second fire in weeks

A fire broke out three weeks ago at the foot of Mt. Brocken, which took three days to put out.

Some 3.6 hectares of spruce forest were destroyed, the Harz national park administration said.

mm/sms (DPA, MDR)