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Fire, blast destroy building at Philippine army barracks, injure 24

Firemen train their hose at the Explosives Ordnance Battalion barracks of the Philippine Army after it caught fire in Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. A large explosion during a fire destroyed a building housing the Philippine army’s explosives and ordnance unit Wednesday, injuring more than 20 people, mostly fire fighters and soldiers, a spokesman said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

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Firemen train their hose at the Explosives Ordnance Battalion barracks of the Philippine Army after it caught fire in Taguig city, east of Manila, Philippines, Wednesday, May 7, 2014. A large explosion during a fire destroyed a building housing the Philippine army’s explosives and ordnance unit Wednesday, injuring more than 20 people, mostly fire fighters and soldiers, a spokesman said. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

MANILA, Philippines - A fire at the Philippine army's explosives and ordnance unit Wednesday triggered a large explosion that destroyed a building and injured at least 24 people, mostly soldiers and firefighters, a spokesman said.

The cause of the fire inside Fort Bonifacio, the army headquarters in Taguig City in the suburbs of Manila, is being investigated, army spokesman Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato said.

Army hospital staff said three soldiers suffered serious burns. Detoyato said most of the injured were hit by debris from the concrete structure after the explosion flattened the building.

Detoyato said ammunition for troops from the Explosives and Ordnance Battalion plus explosives used as instructional materials by the unit were ignited during the blaze. He said bullets exploded in the heat but did not hit anyone.

Responding firefighters could not come close to the blaze because of the sporadic explosions, radio reports said.

"There were many small explosions like firecrackers, then this huge blast," Detoyato said.

He said the explosion helped subdue the blaze by scattering burning materials.

The site is less than a kilometre (half a mile) from the army gymnasium where President Barrack Obama addressed U.S. and Philippine troops during his visit to Manila last week.

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