MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top investigative agency has opened a criminal probe against an army soldier accused of sparking a devastating fire at a Russian ammunition depot by dropping a cigarette butt.
The Investigative Committee said Thursday the soldier, who voluntarily reported his action, faced charges of breaching fire safety rules. The charge is punishable by up to three years in prison or a fine up to the equivalent of $30,000.
The fire broke out Tuesday at the Donguz depot in the Orenburg region in the southern Ural Mountains. It triggered a series of explosions that destroyed more than 4,000 metric tons of artillery munitions and injured one officer.
Russian military depots see regular fires. Experts say they are often rooted in neglect of fire safety rules and poor skills of conscript soldiers.