Matches expired on tinder

Spring gives tinder: warning of forest fires

The forest workers have to "watch out as hell", says forester councilor Peter Aichmüller from the Office for Agriculture and Forests in Kitzingen. Anyone who now burns brushwood and crown wood to put a stop to the bark beetle and avoid the use of insecticides may drive the devil out with the Beelzebub. The forests are dry as a sheet. Bavaria's Minister of Forestry, Josef Miller, therefore advised forest owners this week to chop bark and beetle wood and deliver them to heating plants. However, some forest experts wonder whether this is practicable.

Of course, cigarettes or barbecuing outdoors are also a great danger. Every spark quickly finds nourishment in the dried up herb flora, says Aichmüller. However, not all tree populations are equally capable of igniting: Coniferous forests and especially pine trees are considered to be particularly endangered. “The pine lets a lot of light through to the ground, which can then dry out even more,” explains Aichmüller. But the deciduous forest, which makes up 80 percent of the Lower Franconian forest, is also at great risk at this time of the year. "A magnifying glass on the floor could be enough."

The authorities point out that due to the risk of fire from hot exhaust catalytic converters, vehicles should never be parked on easily flammable surfaces, for example grassy verges.

In order to quickly identify any sources of fire, members of the Bavarian Air Rescue Squadron now patrol every day together with specially trained air observers, mostly fire fighters, on two routes over Lower Franconia. Flight Operations Manager Bernd Große (Rüdenhausen) coordinates the operations. This Friday at 5 pm he will take off from the Hettstadt airfield (district of Würzburg) with a Cessna 172 for a two-hour flight on the "West Route" via Kleinrinderfeld, Iphofen, Gramschatz and the Spessart to Untermain. At the same time, a plane takes off in Haßfurt and controls the "east route" with Haßbergen, Rhön and Steigerwald.

In addition, the so-called rapid emergency aircraft (SEF) is available at Giebelstadt airfield. In the event of an alarm, it can take off within 20 minutes. The flights are paid for with funds from the Civil Protection Fund, and the pilots work on a voluntary basis. What cannot be taken for granted, as Bernd Große emphasizes: "The air rescue team is only available in Bavaria."

How quickly the forest catches fire was shown on Wednesday when a shed burned at the edge of the forest in the Steinbach district of Ebelsbach (district of Haßberge). Firefighters were able to prevent a wildfire even though the flames were already 50 meters wide at the edge of the forest. According to the police report, the cause of the fire is still unknown.

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