Nuclear Weapons Plant Forced To Shut Down Due To Massive Wildfires

Greenville Fire-Rescue/Handout via REUTERS

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
Font Size:

Massive wildfires sweeping across Texas forced a major U.S. nuclear weapons plant to briefly shut down Tuesday night, the plant said in a statement on social media.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an emergency declaration on Tuesday for 60 counties in the Texas Panhandle as the Smokehouse Creek Fire grew to encompass 470 square miles, The Associated Press reported, citing the Texas A&M Forest Service. As the blaze traveled south toward the Pantex Plant, the primary U.S. facility tasked with nuclear weapons disassembly paused operations and began evacuating personnel from the site as wildfires emerged north of the facility.

“A fire is north of Pantex. Out of an abundance of caution, nonessential personnel at the site including swing shift are instructed to evacuate the site at 6:30 PM today, February 27,” Pantex said in a statement on X. (RELATED: Defense Spending Plans For 2025 Don’t Live Up To White House, Congress’ Bluster On Deterring China, Experts Say)

Two hours later, the plant confirmed that “operations … have paused until further notice” and that all nuclear weapons and special materials had been secured from the fire.

Located just north of Amarillo, the Pantex Plant has for decades served as the main site for assembling and disassembling America’s massive nuclear arsenal under the oversight of the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to its website. It built its last bomb in 1991 but has dismantled thousands of retired weapons in the years since, the site states.

Pantex also conducts tests on active U.S. nuclear bombs to ensure their continued effectiveness, according to the website.

“As the cornerstone of the nation’s Nuclear Security Enterprise, Pantex applies unique capabilities to ensure the effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in support of the Nation’s nuclear deterrent,” the website states.

Aerial view of wildfires in Texasm U.S., February 27, 2024 in this picture obtained from social media.

Aerial view of wildfires in Texasm U.S., February 27, 2024 in this picture obtained from social media. Patrick Ryan/via REUTERS

Some non-essential personnel were sheltering on-site for several hours while the plant’s fire department and emergency crews worked to secure the site and ensure protection from the oncoming blaze. The plant later confirmed that all non-emergency personnel had been evacuated.

It resumed a normal day shift on Wednesday, with all employees ordered to report for their usual shifts, Pantex said.

Authorities have not confirmed what sparked the blaze that doubled in size between Monday and Tuesday, the AP reported.

Abbott said in a statement he expected the wildfires to continue to spread as weather around the Panhandle was expected to be dry and windy over the coming days.

“Please take all precautions to protect yourself & your loved ones. Thanks to the brave firefighters working 24/7 to protect their fellow Texans,” he wrote in the statement on X.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact