A major fire broke out early Friday in the Indian Army's Panagarh ammunition depot in West Bengal's Burdwan district, destroying a large number of small arms and ammunition.
Residents of adjacent villages said continuous loud explosions were heard from around 1.15 am till 3.30 am in the morning, as Shed 16 of the depot had caught fire.
Panagarh, around 150 km north of Kolkata, is one of the largest ammunitions depots in the country.
Although the army is yet to ascertain the extent of damage, a team of investigators left for Panagarh early in the morning to probe the matter.
The investigators are exploring all angles, including chances of sabotage.
"It will take a couple of days to unravel the cause," Wing Commander Upasani said.
Swapan Khan, resident of a village within a kilometer of the army base camp, said, "My newly constructed house was violently shaking from the shock. I thought it was an earthquake and rushed out of the house."
He said, "But what we realised later was no less terrifying. Explosions kept rocking the entire place. It seemed like an untimely Diwali as flares rose high in the sky."
Defence Ministry spokesman Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani said in Kolkata that the army disaster management team did an exemplary job, as in ordinary circumstances it takes much more than two hours to douse such fires.
Sources said given the high incendiary nature of the ammunitions, even a substantial rise in temperature could lead to explosions.