Emergency services stopped a fuel depot fire outside Kiev from spreading on Tuesday, officials said, but the fate of three firemen missing after the blaze triggered a powerful explosion was unknown.
The fire burned overnight and by morning had spread to at least 16 tanks, most of them storing petrol. That sent a huge pall of black smoke over the area around the depot near Vasylkiv, 30 km (19 miles) from Kiev. The depot\’s owners said they suspected arson.
"Firemen have the situation … under total control," top security official Oleksander Turchynov said in a statement.
There was no longer any threat of the blaze spreading and emergency services were putting out remaining fires in the depot, he said.
Entire oil tanks were consumed in the flames, which emergency services had feared would spread to another fuel depot nearby. Weapons and equipment were removed from a neighboring military base to a place of safety.
"The crisis will be resolved entirely within the next 12 hours," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in televised comments.
One person died in hospital after being hurt in the incident and several others were injured, Ukrainian media said. Three firemen were unaccounted for after the explosion ripped through the area as they battled the fire.
Sixty-two fire-fighting units and three trains delivering water and supplies have been mobilized, emergency services said.
Rescuers had evacuated people from within a two-kilometer radius of the fire, Turchynov said.
Interior Ministry official Zoryan Shkiryak said police were investigating three possible causes of the fire — "violations of fuel storage regulations, technical malfunctions or arson".
The owners of the depot, BRSM-Nafta, said in a statement they believed the fire was the result of an arson attack aimed at damaging its business.
Of the 16 fuel tanks affected, eight had a capacity of 900 cubic meters, while the rest were smaller in volume, the emergency ministry said. The overall capacity of the depot is 25,000 cubic meters.