Thanks to soaring temperatures, the northern hemisphere has recently been struck with an unusual spate of wildfires, from Greece, Sweden, and the U.K. to Canada and United States. But the forest fires that hit Wednesday and Thursday in Brandenburg, the state surrounding Berlin in Germany, came with an explosive twist.
Firefighters there have found their work hampered by explosions from munitions dating back to World War II, which were buried and had been undisturbed until the heat of the flames set them off.
Explosions have been reported in the Fichtenwalde area near Potsdam, to Berlin’s southwest, and around Jütebog, further to the south.
The Jütebog blasts were to be expected, as the site is a former military training area—firefighters had to settle for containing that fire rather than entirely extinguishing it, as the risk of going in was too great.
However, those in Fichtenwalde came as a surprise, said a spokesperson for the local authority, as nobody previously knew munitions were buried there. Raimund Engel, Brandenburg’s wildfire prevention coordinator, said these were probably small-caliber munitions. Nonetheless, the army has been drafted in to help.
The Potsdam-Mittelmark spokesperson told Fortune that the German army was sending in a munitions-clearing tank to make sure the forest area is safe, before firefighters can complete their task.
Engel said the situation was not particularly unusual. “We have many examples of this in Brandenburg,” he said. “This was a major fighting area at the end of World War II.”
Like much of Europe, Germany is enduring a serious drought, that has hit wheat and potato production. The highest temperatures are in the west of the country, which have soared to around 100 Fahrenheit, while Brandenburg and Berlin have a more reasonable 88 degrees or so.