Texas wildfires threatened a nuclear weapon facility. Here is what we know

A nuclear weapons facility was forced to evacuate most of its staff due to threats from a fast-moving wildfire blazing across the Texas Panhandle

Michael Casey
Wednesday 28 February 2024 17:18 GMT
Texas Wildfires
Texas Wildfires

A nuclear weapons facility was forced to briefly evacuate most of its staff due to threats from a fast moving wildfire in the Texas Panhandle.

The Pantex plant, northeast of Amarillo, evacuated nonessential staff Tuesday night as the blaze grew into the second largest in state history.


Pantex is one of six production facilities in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Nuclear Security Enterprise. The plant has been the main U.S. site for assembling and disassembling atomic bombs since 1975. It produced its last new bomb in 1991, and has dismantled thousands of weapons retired from military stockpiles.

Most activities at Pantex take place on 2,000 acres (8 square kilometers) of the 18,000-acre (73-square-kilometer) site. The Pantex site includes 650 buildings and employs more than 4,200 full-time workers.


On Tuesday afternoon, Pantex began posting on X about the approaching wildfire to the north of the facility. The company cancelled the graveyard shift and evacuated most staff out of an “abundance of caution." Employees built a fire barrier to protect the facility and a few workers remained on site, the company said.

By early Wednesday, the threat appeared to have passed. Pantex posted that the facility was “open for normal day shift operations and advised that all personnel should report for duty. The company also said all employees were accounted for.

Pantex representatives did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment. The Associated Press also reached out to the National Nuclear Security Administration's production office via email.


The fire definitely had an impact. The company said Tuesday night that plant operations had “paused until further notice," but that “all weapons and special materials are safe and unaffected.”

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