Bad Godesberg A large team of firefighters were called to fight a blaze near the Kinopolis movie theater in Bad Godesberg on Saturday afternoon. The fire spread from a hedge to a building.
Firefighters believe that a fire near the Kinopolis theater did not break out in a carpenter's workshop in Bad Godesberg. "It definitely did not break out in the workshop area, but in an adjacent thuja hedge on the alley between Beethovenallee and Bürgerstraße," said Operations Director Albert Lehmann on Sunday afternoon in response to an inquiry.
It had not yet been determined if the fire was caused by arson or carelessness. Lehmann suspects the latter, that it might have been a cigarette thoughtlessly tossed away. "It only takes ten to 15 seconds, then the dryness inside the hedge causes a backfire," Lehmann explained. What's more, the essential oils in the plant act like fire accelerators. "So, if you like, all the conditions were perfect for the fire: the hedge, the old building, the warehouse with the dry wood," said the head of operations, explaining what made the work of his 120 firefighters more difficult.
Carpentry shop more than 120 years old
When callers phoned the fire department on Saturday shortly after 4 p.m., the descriptions of the fire were not dramatic, says Lehmann. "But when the firefighters from the Godesberg fire station saw the black column of smoke when they were moving out, they immediately requested additional firefighters," says Lehmann, who was still in action on Quantiusstrasse at the time.
For more than 120 years, the family-run carpentry workshop Ungerathen has been fulfilling "dreams made of wood big and small" according to its homepage. The shock is all the deeper for those affected, as could be seen on their faces on Sunday. Family members gathered in front of the house, leafing through thick folders with insurance documents. Looking desperately at what was left of their life's work. The time had not yet come to ask questions about the here and now or the future.
The fire triggered a major deployment of Bonn firefighters on Saturday. With a massive effort, they prevented the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings. Because of the fire, they issued an official hazard warning via Warnapp NINA for about an hour and warned of possible health hazards. Due to the smoke and an offensive odor, people in Bad Godesberg city were asked to go into closed rooms and keep windows and doors closed, and ventilation and air conditioning systems switched off.
120 firefighters called to the blaze in Bad Godesberg
Around 120 firefighters were at the scene of the fire in Bad Godesberg at around 4:15 pm. The fire broke out in the immediate vicinity of the Ungerathen carpenter shop on Beethovenallee, in a public parking area behind the railway and the Kinopolis theater, before spreading to the building. Firefighters first tried to fight the blaze inside of the building by using a turntable ladder but the flames spread very quickly, and they had to evacuate the building. More firefighters were then called in from other stations as well as all volunteer firefighters from Bad Godesberg and Bonn.
Since the flames threatened to spread to neighboring houses, the adjacent apartments had to be evacuated. Due to the massive development of smoke, 30 residents of the surrounding buildings had to leave their apartments. One passerby received treatment on location from emergency medical personnel for suspected smoke poisoning.
Shortly after 7 p.m., officials were able to report that firefighting efforts were successful and that the blaze was under control. But further efforts to extinguish the entire fire and and proceed with clean-up work continued into the late evening hours. According to Bonn police, property damage was estimated at approximately 150,000 euros.
A large cloud of smoke covered the immediate vicinity for a long period of time. According to the GA reporter at the scene, it was almost impossible to see anything in one part of the road because the smoke was so dense. The police cordoned off the area within a radius of around 500 meters and tried to keep the numerous onlookers away.
Police follow up witness tip
On Sunday morning, a 17-year-old witness told the General-Anzeiger that he had seen two young people between the ages of 15 and 17, hanging out on the short walkway between Beethovenallee and Bürgerstraße at about 3 p.m. on Saturday. The walkway is directly between the carpenter's workshop and the railway line.
Bonn police will now investigate the tip. But because the fire broke out more than an hour later, it is uncertain whether there is a direct connection to the fire. Police are looking for further witnesses who might have observed anything suspicious in that area on Saturday afternoon at Beethovenallee - especially between 4 and 5 pm. Anyone who has information is asked to please contact police at 0228/15o.
(Translation: Carol Kloeppel, Orig. text: Michael Wrobel, Axel Vogel, Silke Elbern)