Some 30,000 people have been evacuated in central Ukraine after an army warehouse where 188,000 tons of ammunition were stored caught fire overnight.
The military warehouse in Kalinovka, near Vinnytsia stored both shells and weapons ammunition, and images from the scene shows an enormous fireball over the area, and several rockets flying into the night sky.
Two women in a village nearby were taken to hospital with shrapnel injuries, as more than 1,000 fire-fighters and Ukrainian national guard battled the flames.
Big boom: The fire broke out at an army warehouse in central Ukraine on Tuesday night with 188,000 tons of ammunition going up in flames
Intense: So far some 30,000 people have been evacuated from nearby towns and villages
Fire in the hole: The storage facility contained everything from rockets to firearms ammunition
It is not known how the fire started, but local media claims that the blaze was arson and a carefully planned Russian sabotage mission.
Thousands of shells ignited in an extraordinary inferno that was first reported shortly before 10pm on Tuesday.
The depot is the largest in the country, and the fire caused shells and flames to shoot high into the sky in an alarming firework display that saw the air space being closed over the city of Vinnitsa.
There have been mass evacuations from villages close to the site of up to 30,000 people, RT.com reports.
High risk: A rocked can be seen flying over a number of farm buildings in Kalynivka
Fireworks: Rockets are seen are launching into the sky seen after a fire at a warehouse storing ammunition for multiple rocket launcher systems at a military base
Big boom: The military warehouse in Kalinovka, near Vinnytsia holds both shells and weapons ammunition, and images from the scene shows an enormous fireball over the area
Far reaching: Two women in a nearby village have been taken to hospital with shrapnel injuries after the weapons storage blew up, sending shells into the sky
Who dunnit: It is not known how the fire started, but local media claims it was Russian sabotage
Journalist Yury Butusov, chief editor of Censor.net, claimed the fire was arson, pointing the finger at Russia.
He even claimed it was a birthday present from Vladimir Putin to his opposite number Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, who was 52 on Tuesday.
‘The biggest artillery storage of Ukrainian army has been attacked,’ he said.
‘A source of Censor.net says that explosions are well heard in Vinnitsa, and flying shells are well visible.
‘It is an open storage and its capacity was exceeded. The enemy keeps attacking the military infrastructure of Ukraine.
Ukrainian army soldiers patrol a street in the town of Kalynivka, 13 miles from the side of the ammunition depot blast site
Leaving: A woman and her pet dog wait for evacuation in Kalynivka on Wednesday morning
Military reaction: Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC) ride on the road near the warehouse
‘This catastrophe will deprive us of large weapon storage.’
He stated: ‘It is a strong attack on defence ability of Ukraine. Emergency measures should be taken….
‘Putin decided to send his congratulations (to Poroshenko) on this day.’
Ukrainian prime minister Vladimir Groysman, arriving in Vinnitsa to take charge of the fire crisis, insisted: ‘Everybody is working, the situation is under control.
‘All measures are taken to put out the fire, a sufficient numbers of people and engines were sent there,and everything possible is being done.’