Fifteen soldiers died, and three others were seriously injured in a major fire that broke out at a military barracks in Armenia early morning of January 19.
According to the Armenian Ministry of Defence, the fire burst out overnight at the barracks of an engineer-sapper company in a military unit in Azat, a village in eastern Gegharkunik province, about 110km east of Yerevan, the capital.
Quoting the "preliminary" findings of military investigators, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Defence Minister Suren Papikyan blamed it on a severe violation of fire-safety rules.
Pashinyan said one of the officers at the unit used a large amount of petrol to start a fire in a woodstove heating the barracks. He said the Armenian army's General Staff strictly banned the use of petrol and other highly flammable liquids for such purposes in a written order issued on December 21.
"Elementary compliance with this order would have prevented the accident," Pashinyan said during a weekly session of his cabinet. Papikyan announced that many military officers have already been sacked over what was one of the deadliest non-combat accidents ever registered in Armenia's armed forces.
The sacked officers included Vahram Grigoryan, the commander of the army's Second Corps stationed in Gegharkunik. Grigoryan's three deputies and the chief of the defence ministry's fire-safety service were also reportedly fired.
Law-enforcement authorities didn't report any arrests as of now, but according to them, all 15 victims of the fire were army conscripts. The conscrition age in Armenia is 18.