#98: Grunewald fire, sex at Liquidrom, ride-share fine
plus death and bureaucracy
Hey 20 Percent!
Part of Grunewald remains on fire as Berlin’s several pasts erupted into a dangerous mess early Thursday. The Avus/A115 autobahn as well as the adjacent rail traffic (S7 and Deutsche Bahn trains) remain suspended.
A munitions dump somehow caught on fire, setting off the munitions and fireworks stored there and then about 42 hectares of surrounding forest. The fire department has set up a 1km perimeter around the site because continuing explosions produce shrapnel so severe they even pulled out a robot sent in to surveil the site — they’re reportedly going to try again today with a different robot that can also spray some water on the blaze.
The good news is that the fire is under control — various firefighting agencies are just trying to figure out how to put out the munitions dump. The German army has supplied a rescue tank and other crazy armored firefighting equipment is on-site — the kind of things that require a Lego-inspired imagination.
The site is a West Berlin legacy — officials back then needed somewhere remote to detonate the continuous finds of WWII ordinance and the only remote place in the island that was West Berlin was in the middle of Grunewald. The site stayed in operation after reunification and is now not only for destroying old ordinance and other explosives, companies also rent space to store fireworks and incendiary things, according to RBB.
Berlin and Brandenburg have talked about a joint site somewhere in the less-populous Brandenburg (that leafy state surrounding Berlin) but those talks produced little — Brandenburg mostly just destroys munitions where they’re found to avoid transport.
It’s now wait and see — such explosions aren’t so rare — but the site’s remoteness proved a good choice, even if we have to shed a few tears for the forest.
More news below and have a good weekend!
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The Berlin corona stats for Friday, August 5
Received booster: 62.9% (62.9% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: 2,134 (3,173 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,722 (+7 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 326 (360.8 Friday)
🔴7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 18 (16.7 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 5.6% (6.4% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
Dying at the Bürgeramt
Berlin’s bureaucracy is like the weather: Everyone complains about it but no one does anything about it. My son has been waiting six months for approval to take a simple written driving test and now dead people in Marzahn-Hellersdorf are having to wait two months to get approval for burial, according to RBB24. In Berlin, bureaucracy even delays your death. The Marzahn-Hellersdorf Bürgeramt is Berlin’s smallest with just nine employees so the borough’s mayor told RBB they’re hiring more people to help with the backlog. Also: Allaboutberlin’s Bürgeramt appointment finder is back online, with the blessing of city officials, so there’s some relief.
Fine for illegal Uber service
Berlin’s transport ministry Wednesday said it fined a ride-sharing company €500,000 for operating without a license after presenting forged documents to companies including Uber, FreeNow and Bolt. The services told Tagesspiegel they no longer work with the company and are cooperating with authorities. The illegal ride-sharing company used about 160 cars for more than 100,000 rides between August 2021 and March 2022, the ministry said. Officials said the fine is just the first in a series to enforce taxi and ride-sharing regulations.
Sex and the city swimming pool
Some swimmers (or are they floaters?) at the Liquidrom’s 36-degree pool complained to Tagesspiegel that people were clearly having sex in the water (Liquidrom is in the Tempodrom venue in Kreuzberg and pipes tunes into its pool for max relaxation). The paper’s Checkpoint newsletter then went on to highlight an ancient review and newer blogpost pointing out the location’s reputation for semi-public copulation. A spokesman said the practice is frowned upon but then essentially told the newsletter that a regular Tuesday event is the perfect place for doing what’s forbidden. Is sex off-limits anywhere in Berlin?
Our fair city-state is home to about 5,800 taxis and 4,500 ride-sharing vehicles, many of which seem to have less regard for traffic laws than most cyclists.