Three people died Tuesday in a fire at a key gas pipeline in western Russia that sends supplies through Ukraine and on to Europe, the regional governor told state-run television. Images circulating on social media showed a large ball of fire billowing over one and two-storey buildings in a snow-blanketed village, with residents moving closer to inspect the blaze. “According to preliminary data, four people were working (at the site). Unfortunately, three of them died when gas suddenly ignited,” Oleg Nikolayev said. “One person, a driver, survived and is in a state of shock,” he added on television. The fire, which emergency services said has been extinguished, erupted near the village of Yambakhtino, around 600 kilometres (372 miles) east of Moscow. A local branch of emergency services said the blast occurred during planned repairs on the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod pipeline, which also known as the Brotherhood pipeline. The pipeline, which passes through Ukraine, is one of the main gas links from Russia to Europe. Moscow has dramatically reduced shipments to Europe in response to Western sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.