German military clears fire break to contain massive blaze

July 3, 2019
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An armoured recovery vehicle of the German Armed Forces creates a fire lane at the edge of the burning forest area in Jessenitz, eastern Germany, Wednesday, July 3, 2019. During a tour organized by the Ludwigslust-Parchim district, representatives of the press were able to get an idea of the work, and access to the actual fire area has so far been refused. The situation in the forest fire area on a former military training area near L'btheen in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has eased slightly for the first time since the outbreak of the fire. The first inhabitants were able to return to their houses which had been cleared as a precaution. (Jens Buettner/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — German officials say thousands of firefighters, soldiers and civil defense personnel are beginning to get a massive wildfire burning northwest of Berlin under control but the situation remains critical.

German news agency dpa reported Wednesday that armored military bulldozers were working to clear a firebreak around the blaze in Luebtheen and additional vehicles were to be brought in over the course of the day.

Some 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) are affected in what has become the largest blaze in the history of the Mecklenburg Western Pomerania state. Luebtheen is located about 170 kilometers (106 miles) from Berlin.

Officials say the fire area has not expanded since Tuesday and they’re optimistic the blaze is now contained. Residents of four villages who were evacuated protectively are now being allowed to return to their homes.

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