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Hundreds evacuated near Berlin as forest fire threatens villages

Staff Writer |
Around 600 people had to be evacuated from their homes due to a forest fire near Berlin on Thursday, police said.

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The fire, which covered around 300 hectares (740 acres) south of Potsdam, spread to within about 100 metres (320 feet) of three villages. As of Friday morning, it still continues to burn over an area of 400 hectares, reports the Berliner Zeitung.

Residents of the villages of Frohnsdorf, Klausdorf und Tiefenbrunnen were told to leave and only bring essential medication and papers with them, a local police spokesman said.

Several hundred firefighters were deployed to fight the flames which spread rapidly due to recent dry conditions. Extinguishing the fire, however, has proved to be a dangerous task for fire fighters, as the forest floor still has left-over ammunition from World War II.

The fire has already caused old hand grenades and cartridges to detonate.

The effects of the fire were also felt in Berlin, as smoke drifted over the capital on Friday morning. Whole streets are smoky, fire department spokesman told the Berliner Zeitung.

The fire also had an effect on train lines, with commuters between Wannsee and Jüterbog needing to use alternative bus lines.

Neighbourhoods from the south to the center are affected with smoke, said the fire department on Twitter. They advised residents to keep windows and doors closed.

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