1 of 3 | A handout photo made available by Russian occupation authorities shows firefighters deployed to extinguish a fire at an oil depot in Sevastopol, Crimea, on Saturday after a suspected drone strike. Photo by EPA-EFE
April 29 (UPI) -- A massive fire at a fuel depot in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula was put out Saturday as the governor of the region's Russian occupiers claimed it was caused by a suspected drone attack.
Mikhail Razvozhayev, leader of the Russian-installed local government in Crimea, said in a Telegram post a fire in the port city of Sevastopol could have been caused by an unmanned aerial vehicle.
"Four oil tanks struck in two sectors have now actually burnt out and the fire currently engulfs what was spilled in the concrete-made storage tank," the governor said.
It was not immediately known if any casualties were caused by the suspected strike, but Razvozhayev said emergency services were on the scene.
The raging fire, he added, covered 1,000 meters. Photos from the scene showed thick clouds of black smoke rising from the fuel depot, which was covered in flames.
Ukraine did not officially claim responsibility for the fires, but Andrii Yusov, a spokesman for the country's military intelligence arm, said the incident was a punishment for Russia's killings of civilians and noted the oil stored there is used by Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
"It is advisable for all residents of the temporarily occupied Crimea not to be near military facilities and facilities providing the aggressor's army in the near future," Yusov told Ukraine's RBC news agency.
Fires and explosions have been a regular feature of life in the Russian-occupied Crimean Peninsula and Sevastopol, its largest city, since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.
In one example, an explosion on a bridge built by occupiers to link Crimea with Russia was targeted in an Oct. 8 bombing that partially destroyed a railroad line on the span.
Experts say the attack on the Kerch Bridge represented a serious blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who proudly appeared at its grand opening in 2018 following Russia's contentious annexation of Crimea four years earlier.
Putin called the blast an "act of terrorism" which targeted Russia's critical infrastructure, while the Russian intelligence agency specifically blamed Ukrainian intelligence operatives.
Russia has occupied Crimea since it annexed the peninsula in 2014 following the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in the Euromaidan Revolution.
A wounded woman is treated by emergency service personnel at the site of an explosion in Kyiv, Ukraine on October 10, 2022. At least five people have been killed and 12 wounded in Russian missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo