Giga Berlin fire extinguished, critics call for production shutdown [Update]

giga berlin fire
Credit: Moz.de

A fire broke out on the grounds of Giga Berlin on Monday in an area where packing materials and cardboard is recycled. The fire did not affect the main factory building and was extinguished without injury, but critics are now calling for Giga Berlin to stop production over concerns the groundwater may have been polluted.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Monday morning in the northeast corner of the Giga Berlin factory complex. It was reported by local publication MOZ.de that the tires on the recycling machine exploded, causing the fire to spread to nearby piles of carboard and wood chips.

Tesla’s own fire department, along with 50 firefighters from other nearby departments battled the blaze, which reportedly started in a cardboard press machine. Local officials estimated 800 cubic meters of paper, cardboard and wood caught fire.

UPDATE 10:34am PDT: Unfortunately we have learned from a source that some drive units that were being stored nearby were also damaged and destroyed in the fire. It is unclear yet how this will impact production, if at all.

Initial reports from the district fire chief indicated crews were able to contain the water used to extinguish the fire to the immediate area, using a company to suck up the excess water and extinguishing foam in the paved area.

However, the Oder-Spree district later clarified that water was not contained to the recycling area, all of which was paved. Crews needed to pull apart the cardboard bales and move them to another area in order to extinguish them on an unpaved area.

This could have resulted in some of the water and extinguishing foam getting into the ground and possibly entering the groundwater supply.

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“When fighting the fire, the fire material had to be pulled apart. The bales were also pulled into the unpaved area next to the recycling area and deleted there. “Therefore, it could not be completely avoided that extinguishing water also got into the ground,” said district spokesman Mario Behnke.

As a result, a citizens’ initiative Grünheide (BI) is calling for a production stop while an investigation is completed.

“Our worst fears have come true. We demand a production stop until the causes and circumstances have been clarified and all safety-related measures in the water protection area have been implemented,” says Steffen Schorcht from BI. (translated from German)

The Strausberg Erkner Water Board (WSE), a group which said Giga Berlin’s operations would completely exhaust the region’s water supplies, a claim which was later debunked, is also voicing their concern.

“Well, what can be seen there clearly confirms that extinguishing water seeps into the unpaved area. In view of the fact that the groundwater is unprotected at this point – i.e. without a waterproof cover – we view this with great concern,” said WSE boss André Bähler to MOZ.de.

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