April 25 (UPI) — Hundreds of firefighters battled a major forest fire in central Germany on Thursday they said was the size of eight soccer fields, which injured three crew members.
German police said a lightning strike caused the fire on Wednesday night that engulfed an area at the Seulingswalf hill range, just north of Fulda close to the A4 Autobahn.
Officials said about 400 firefighters were called to tame fire, which grew to 750,000 square feet. The fire is the latest for a country that’s seen several so far this year due to abnormally hot temperatures. Another fire broke out in Thuringia this week and two burned in Brandenburg and Bavaria.
The German Weather Service issued forest fire warnings for several areas of the country.
Experts say a current drought may have created conditions that increased fire danger in Germany, Norway and Sweden. High winds may have also helped the German fire spread.
Rain is forecast for next week, but officials say it won’t be enough to offset the drought damage.
Germany has faced low rain levels since the beginning of the year. If the current pace continues, forecasters say the drought could become worse than the previous dry spell last year.
The European Union has discussed giving aid to European farmers who are struggling with the dry conditions.
“We are monitoring the development carefully and take the concerns of farmers very seriously,” said a spokesperson at the German Food and Agriculture Ministry.