RUSSIA’S only aircraft carrier has burst into flames in the latest mysterious fire to target key Russian infrastructure in recent months.
The Admiral Kuznetsov, a 305-metre-long Soviet-era warship, erupted in flames while in a Murmansk dock in the Arctic northwest of Russia.
Emergency services told Russian state media that 20 people had to be evacuated after the fire broke out at the Zvyozdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk, almost 1,000 miles north of Moscow.
It is believed that blaze ignited in the staterooms onboard Putin’s flagship carrier.
Russian media reported that the fire spread to a six-metre area on the open deck, forcing the crew to rush and extinguish it.
Pictures from the scene show fire appliances surrounding the mammoth vessel.
The crew is currently checking other compartments onboard the ship to ensure it is safe.
Alexei Rakhmanov, the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which is overseeing the renovation of the 1985-built aircraft carrier, told RIA Novosti the blaze began during repair work.
The cause of the fire onboard Putin’s largest naval ship is still unknown.
It comes just two days after the mammoth month-long operation to remove the Admiral Kuznetsov from dry dock in Murmansk began.
The overhaul isn’t expected to be finally completed until 2024, by which point the 1985-built ship will be almost 40 years old.
Putin is said to be scrambling to get the creaking old warship afloat again as he looks to shore up his faltering war effort in Ukraine.
The length of three football pitches, the ship can carry up to 28 fighter jets and 17 helicopters.
Those include Su-33 and MiG-29 planes, and Ka-52K and Ka-27 attack choppers.
It is also armed with deadly P-700 Granit missiles.
Russian state media agency TASS quoted an emergency services source on Thursday as saying that the fire had been extinguished and that “there were no casualties”.
Previously, Putin’s vessel stalked British shores when it sailed through the English Channel on its way to the Syrian coast in 2016.
The Admiral Kuznetsov previously suffered a mysterious fire onboard in December 2019 during a refit.
Two people died and 14 were injured in the devastating blaze which also caused some $80 million in damage.
Access to the city of some 180,000 people is restricted to foreigners, and a special pass is required to visit.
In August 2019, a nuclear accident took place at the nearby Russian Navy’s Central Missile Range.
It is the latest mysterious fire to break out in Russia affecting key war-related infrastructure in recent months.
Earlier in December, a massive shopping centre near Moscow exploded in an enormous fire.
The Mega mall in Khimki, burst into flames following a suspected arson attack, leaving one dead.
Just this week, a Siberian oil pipeline exploded, killing three gas workers.
The alleged sabotage attack hit the major Russian pipeline some 560 miles from the Ukrainian border in Chuvashia.
And in June, another mystery fire engulfed Russia’s largest gas field, with a gargantuan fireball visible for miles around.
The cause of the blaze in Urengoyskoye in Russia’s far east is still unknown.
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