Security officials in Ukraine claim firefighters have now managed to contain a huge blaze at a fuel depot some 30 kilometres from the capital Kyiv.
At least four people have been killed in the incident including three firemen.
Entire oil tanks -16 of them -.were consumed in the flames sending up clouds of thick black smoke. Government representatives arrived to monitor the situation.
“We have two theories,” said Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. “ Arson or procedural negligence. We think its 80 to 90 percent sure it was negligence.”
In fact police are investigating three possible causes of the fire – violations of fuel storage regulations, technical malfunctions and arson.
Our reporter at the scene Maria Korenyuk said that nearby were four villages where about 800 people normally live. Although the emergency crew said there was no direct danger, some people had decided to leave.
However rescuers did evacuate people from within a two-kilometre radius of the fire. It was clear many people had left in a hurry, abandoning all but what they could carry.
Some of those left behind were slightly scornful of their neighbours:
“We’re not afraid,” said one young girl. “But there are people who are scared. They are just running away….”
While a local man said he saw three buses come to take people away: “ Some locals gathered their belongings, passports and left. Mainly they were women and children”.
With more than 60 firefighting units on the scene backup personal are loaded up with water and milk to help combat the smoke.
Scientists have warned air quality over the capital is six or seven times more polluted than usual.