Berlin forest fire contained but ammo dump still a problem

BERLIN (AP) — A fire accompanied by explosions at a police ammunition dump in a Berlin forest was contained and large parts of it were extinguished on Friday, but authorities were still waiting to get access to the dump itself.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday in the Grunewald forest on the western edge of the German capital. The site is far from the nearest homes and no one had to be evacuated, but authorities declared a 1,000-meter (more than half-mile) exclusion zone and a nearby highway and railway line remained closed on Friday.

Fire service spokesman Thomas Kirstein said that wildfires in the area around the ammunition dump had been largely extinguished by Friday morning. Authorities are now hoping to get a close look at the site itself, with help from armored vehicles and robots, after being unable to do so on Thursday amid concern about continuing sporadic detonations.

It remains unclear what triggered the first explosions at the ammunition dump early Thursday. The site was created in Cold War-era West Berlin in 1950, and 25 metric tons or more of fireworks, World War II ammunition and other explosive ordnance was stored there before the fire started. Controlled blasts are carried out there twice a year.

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