Russia: May 6, 2004


A fire broke out in a Ukrainian artillery ammunition storage depot, killing five people and continuing to burn and explode despite efforts to contain it. The ammunition storage era dates from the Soviet era. A large portion of the Soviet era ground forces were reserve units, and as much as half these units stored their weapons and ammunition in Ukraine. When the Soviet Union broke up, newly independent Ukraine inherited all this. Not needing equipment and ammo for over a hundred divisions, Ukraine has been selling it off (legally and illegally) ever since. But the ammo has continued to grow older (some of it dates to the 1950s) and more unstable. Apparently, some of it went off, and the fire spread. Ammunition storage facilities are laid out to prevent the spread of fire, but the Ukrainians move stuff around in the course of preparing to ship out stuff that has been sold, or used by Ukrainian forces, so the ammo storage area was not as safe as it should have been. Russia has sent fire fighting experts with experience in dealing with situations like this. Russia has had similar ammo depot fires in the last two decades.


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