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Several fire brigades from both countries are fighting the fire with the help of helicopters and tracked vehicles

Photo: Ralf Roeger / dpa

A large-scale moor fire has been occupying the fire brigades in the german-Belgian border area near Aachen since Monday. The fire broke out on the Belgian side in the High Fens, said on Tuesday the city region of Aachen. By Tuesday morning, 170 hectares had burned down.

No people have been injured so far. During the day, a fire-fighting helicopter and tracked vehicles were deployed in the hard-to-reach area.

Under the leadership of the Aachen city region, around 200 German rescue workers tried to prevent the fire from spreading from the grassland and moorland to the so-called high forest.

"Our task is to secure a firebreak in the area between the grass fire and the tree population, which consists largely of spruce," said district fire chief Thomas Sprank. "We benefit from a paved road. Along this path, we massively moisten the soil to prevent the fire from progressing."

The fire brigades from Aachen, Stolberg, Monschau, Simmerath, Eschweiler, Herzogenrath, Alsdorf and numerous forces from the districts of Düren and Euskirchen are involved. The Dutch fire brigade is also supporting the work. Together with the German Red Cross, the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) is taking care of the supply of the emergency services.

According to the Belgian Water and Forestry Service, the fire was allegedly caused by human activities.

EU warns of more intense forest fires due to climate change

The High Fens are closed to hikers in the fire area and the surrounding area. The fire brigade asked hikers and walkers to avoid the area as much as possible so as not to hinder the extinguishing work and not to put themselves in danger.

The EU Commission had recently pointed out that forest fires were starting earlier and earlier due to climate change. This summer is expected to be intense with regard to forest fires, said the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarcic, on Tuesday in Brussels.

Dry conditions were already prevailing in many parts of Europe, which facilitated forest fires along with heat.

For this year's forest fire season, which began on Tuesday from the point of view of the civil protection mechanism, almost 30 planes and helicopters are available, about twice as many as last year. The measures are carried out under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. EU countries and other countries are working more closely together on disaster preparedness and response.