Vege­ta­tion fire special­ists from the inter­na­tional aid orga­ni­za­tion @fire are help­ing to fight the forest fire in the rear of Saxon Switzer­land. Around 80 @fire forces, some with inter­na­tional deploy­ment expe­ri­ence, have been deployed to the German-Czech border over the past two weeks. They assisted with fire­fight­ing on the ground in diffi­cult-to-access terrain and coor­di­nated the use of up to 15 heli­copters in fight­ing fires from the air.

Based on inter­na­tional train­ing and expe­ri­ence, @fire has special forces special­ized in Vege­ta­tions­brand­bekämp­fung espe­cially with hand tools. Since being requested by inci­dent command on Monday evening, July 25, these highly mobile response teams (hand crews) have been support­ing ground fire­fight­ing efforts in the partic­u­larly hard-to-reach areas of the inci­dent area in a dedi­cated response section. Often the fire has eaten into the 20 to 40 centime­ter thick humus layer. Smok­ing or smol­der­ing spots must there­fore be thor­oughly and gener­ously chopped up and extin­guished. Fire pock­ets some­times eat far under the suppos­edly unaf­fected area. Water is supplied largely by flown-in IBC contain­ers or collapsi­ble tanks and small portable fire pumps.

In addi­tion, @fire’s AirOps special­ists coor­di­nate up to 15 heli­copters in fire­fight­ing oper­a­tions as the “Air” section command. In addi­tion, coor­di­na­tors will be deployed in an obser­va­tion heli­copter and on the ground to ensure safe, effec­tive and effi­cient heli­copter fire­fight­ing operations.

The deploy­ment of the hand crew and AirOps special­ists was completed on sched­ule Friday evening, Aug. 5. At this time, two @fire special­ists are still on scene to conduct recon­nais­sance assign­ments for inci­dent command and to brief fire­fight­ers on the hand crew oper­a­tions section and our equip­ment, some of which has remained on scene.

Respon­ders continue to fight pock­ets of embers on the ground in the area of oper­a­tion with a high level of manpower and tech­ni­cal effort. About 600 fire­fight­ers, twelve heli­copters and three water cannons are deployed daily. About 100 forces of the THW as well as relief orga­ni­za­tions such as DRK, ASB and Johan­niter are respon­si­ble for logis­tics and cater­ing. Forces from the moun­tain rescue service and forestry also supported the emer­gency forces. The fire spread has so far been contained to approx­i­mately 150 hectares.

Due to the weather fore­cast for the next few days, the mission control does not expect an easing of the situ­a­tion, accord­ing to the District Office of Saxon Switzer­land-Osterzge­birge. It is still to be expected that there will be repeated flare-ups in the area of oper­a­tion and that the asso­ci­ated fire-fight­ing measures will be very costly. The minor show­ers of the last few days had no notice­able effect on fire activity.

Oper­a­tion instruc­tions for supra-local units

The vege­ta­tion fire in the Elbe Sand­stone Moun­tains / Saxon Switzer­land poses special chal­lenges to tactics, tech­nol­ogy and emer­gency forces. Since @fire has been inte­grated into the measures since the begin­ning and has been able to gain expe­ri­ence, recom­men­da­tions for the emer­gency services are passed on to the arriv­ing supra-local units with a special­ist recommendation: