Bavarian firemen called to forest fire started by state’s own forestry minister

Bavarian firemen called to forest fire started by state’s own forestry minister

08 October 2015

published by

Germany — Helmut Brunner was burning garden waste when his bonfire got out of control.

  Firefighters called to put out a forest fire in Bavaria over the weekend were astonished to find that the culprit was none other than the state’s own forestry minister.

Helmut Brunner started the fire by accident when he tried to dispose of the remains of a bonfire in his garden by tipping the hot embers into a nearby wood, the ministry confirmed.

It took 22 firemen and 4,000 litres of water to put out the ensuing blaze.

A red-faced Mr Brunner explained that he thought the embers were extinguished.

“I completely underestimated it,” he told Bavarian radio, “this is really embarrassing. You can’t be too careful.”

As if his mistake wasn’t mortifying enough, Mr Brunner had spent much of the summer issuing warnings about the high risk of forest fires in the area.

And to make matters even worse, it transpired that he had broken one of his own laws by burning garden waste on a public holiday.

In Germany, and Bavaria in particular, there are very strict laws about what you can and cannot do on public holidays – and it seems lighting a bonfire in your own garden is one of them.

The fire was detected when a passing motorist saw smoke rising from the wood and called the fire brigade.

By then Mr Brunner had found flames rising from the spot where he dumped the embers and, realising his mistake, he also called the emergency services.

Firefighters said the blaze was not dangerous,. They were able to put it out before it caused substantial damage to the wood, or affected any nearby properties.

As for Mr Brunner, he vowed to Bavarian radio: “Such a thing will never happen to me again.”

USAA members now can save money on their homeowners insurance premiums by living within the boundaries of a recognized Firewise Communities/USA® program. Currently, the discounts are available to eligible members in California, Colorado and Texas, three states prone to wildfire activity.

“Wildfire season is well underway, and we want to educate the public and our members on ways to prepare for a wildfire,” says Jim Salek, vice president of underwriting programs and loss prevention at USAA. “It is important that individual homeowners take action to reduce the risks of wildfires. However, this is a team effort, and an entire community can benefit when it gets behind fire prevention efforts. We hope the Firewise discount gives communities the incentive to take action.”

USAA was the first major national insurance provider to offer such discounts to members living in Firewise Communities and has teamed up with Firewise to determine if a home is located in a recognized community. The discount is then automatically applied to USAA members who live in that community*. The Firewise website has a list of the recognized communities and information on how to take action to get communities started on the recognition process.

While the program is currently limited, USAA intends to pursue this discount for its members living in other states with significant wildfire risks. As of June 30, the discount is automatically applied only to new homeowners policies and rental property insurance policies, for those who own and rent out property, issued or renewed in California, Colorado and Texas.

USAA also has expanded its direct efforts to help members threatened by an active wildfire. In 14 wildfire-prone states, USAA offers all eligible members enrollment in the Wildfire Response Program. The program, conducted with Wildfire Defense Systems, an association of professional wild land firefighters, attempts to help eligible members protect their homes in the event of an active wildfire. WDS monitors wildfire activity and, working with the onsite incident commander, takes proactive measures, when feasible, to help protect a member’s home, such as closing windows and doors, clearing debris and moving other flammable materials away from the home.

USAA offers other wildfire-related products and services to its members, including:

  • A property risk assessment tool on, which allows members to input their address to see if their home is at risk for wildfire or storm surge and tells them how they can reduce the risk of damage.
  • WDSPro App, a free app that gives tips and advice on how to reduce wildfire risk and helps homeowners complete a property wildfire assessment in less than 20 minutes. On-screen directions cue users to take photos around the outside of their home to capture key information about their property and surroundings. The information and photos are submitted to a professional fire risk analyst for recommendations on how to better protect the home against wildfires.

– See more at:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien