1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

US nuclear weapons facility reopens after wildfire threat

February 28, 2024

The Pantex Plant reopened after being shut down for a day given the threat of fires sweeping the northern Texas region. The fires prompted the Texas governor to issue a disaster declaration in the area.

A satellite image of Pantex, the main facility that assembles and disassembles America's nuclear arsenal, that shut down Tuesday amid the threat of fires
Pantex is the main facility that assembles and disassembles America's nuclear arsenalImage: Planet Labs PBC/AP Photo/picture alliance

A nuclear weapons facility in the Texas Panhandle said it reopened for operations on Wednesday after it shut down for a day as a series of blazes burned in the region.

The Texas Panhandle is a region of the US state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. Texas has a total of 254 counties, more than any other US state.

Pantex reopens for 'normal' operations

The Pantex Plant said the plant “is open for normal day shift operations” and that all personnel were to report for duty according to their assigned schedule. The plant earlier said Tuesday it was monitoring the threat and that there was no fire at the site.

"Since 1975, Pantex has been the nation’s primary assembly, disassembly, retrofit, and life-extension center for nuclear weapons," the websitefor the plant says. It assembled the last new atomic bomb in 1991 and has also disassembled thousands.

Pantex is about 17 miles (27.36 kilometers) northeast of the northern Texas city of Amarillo and some 320 miles (515 kilometers) northwest of Dallas. 

What do we know about the fires?

At least five fires were burning in the Texas Panhandle region as of early Wednesday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

So far, more than 381,000 acres have been burned by the fires, according to the Forest Service. But 25 out of 31 fires in the state had been brought under control.

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for 60 counties as the largest blaze, the Smokehouse Creek Fire, burned nearly 400 square miles (1,040 square kilometers), according to the forest service. That is more than twice its size since the fire sparked Monday.

As of Wednesday, the Smokehouse Creek Fire was burning in Hutchinson County, which includes the city of Canadian, a city about 100 miles northeast of Amarillo.

An unknown number of homes and other structures in Hutchinson County have been damaged, officials said, and the air quality in the region has severely dipped.

rm/wd (Reuters, AFP)