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Fire in Berlin forest after blast in munitions store

A large fire broke out Thursday in a popular forest in western Berlin following an explosion in a police munitions storage site, as a new heatwave enveloped Germany.

Firefighters have so far only been able to begin tackling two of the four fires, as the affected area of 15,000 square metres (161,500 square feet) included a storage site for police ammunition.

Explosions were intermittently rocking the area, including a large detonation heard by AFP at 0900 GMT.

No one has been hurt by the fires.

Berlin fire brigade has sought tanks from the army to help combat the flames, said spokesman Thomas Kirstein, adding that “we’re still waiting”.

“The fire is still not under control and is spreading further,” he said, noting that the situation is “extremely extraordinary with munitions”.

Officials are building a security cordon to allow firefighters to begin their work from around a kilometre’s distance from the ammunition storage zone.

A police helicopter was circling the area, as authorities appealed for the public to keep away.

Several regional rail lines have been halted.

Temperatures are expected to climb as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) across parts of Germany. In Berlin, they are predicted to reach 38C.

Brandenburg, the region surrounding Berlin, as well as parts of eastern Germany have for days been battling forest fires.

Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves around the world more frequent and more intense, which increases the risk of fires.

After a scorching Thursday, heavy thunderstorms are due to sweep into the country from the west on Friday, the German weather service said.

A cold front is predicted to bring temperatures down by more than 10 degrees overnight in western Germany, falling to around 20-25 degrees on Friday.