Missile Explosions in Ukraine

ReutersA fuel station worker standing by a tank shell Thursday in Lozovaya, Ukraine.
KIEV -- Artillery shells and other ammunition at a storage site in Ukraine exploded after a forest fire spread to the facility, prompting an evacuation, emergency officials said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was quoted as saying nobody was seriously injured.

The fire broke out in a forest near the town of Lozovaya, some 500 kilometers east of Kiev, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said. Firefighters could not handle the blaze, and it spread to the arsenal, which contains some 100 tons of ammunition on a 500-hectare site, it said.

Tymoshenko said that 1,400 people had been evacuated and a total of 6,000 would be evacuated from the area around the facility, Interfax reported.

Ukrainian defense officials have warned that dozens of large ammunition depots inherited from the former Soviet Union are poorly maintained and represent a serious public hazard.

A fire and explosions at a munitions depot in southern Ukraine in 2004 killed five people. It took days to put the blaze out.