Texas wildfires forces shutdown at nuclear weapon facility. Here is what we know

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

The Pantex factory, northeast of Amarillo, evacuated nonessential workers Tuesday evening as the fire grew to the second largest in state history.

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

Most activities at Pantex take place on 8 square kilometers of the 73 square kilometer site. The Pantex site includes 650 buildings and employs more than 4,200 full-time employees.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pantex began posting on X about the approaching wildfire north of the facility. The company canceled the cemetery service and evacuated most staff out of an “abundance of caution.” Workers built a fire barrier to protect the facility and some workers remained on site, the company said.

On Wednesday morning the threat seemed to have passed. Pantex reported that the facility was “open for normal day shifts and advised that all personnel should report for duty. The company also said all employees were accounted for.

Representatives for Pantex did not immediately respond to phone messages seeking comment. The Associated Press also contacted the National Nuclear Security Administration’s production office via email.

The fire certainly had an impact. The company said Tuesday evening that factory operations were “suspended until further notice,” but that “all weapons and specialty materials are safe and unaffected.”