HENDERSON, Nev. (KLAS) — Many Valley natives will never forget what happened here 32 years ago today. A massive explosion at the PEPCON chemical plant in Henderson left two dead and hundreds injured.
The blast shook the entire area and was felt miles away.
8 News Now spoke to resident Nancy Sloane, who remembers the incident like it was yesterday.
“I was walking into the nursery when all of a sudden there was this concussion,” recalled Sloane.
She had just given birth a few days before the PEPCON explosion happened in 1988. She was still at Sunrise Hospital on May 4.
“We looked out the window of the hospital, and I look out the window, and there is a mushroom cloud over Henderson,” she recounted.
That cloud was coming from the Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada. Investigators said a welder’s torch sparked the fire that spread to a stockpile of ammonium perchlorate, a chemical used to propel rockets.
“I was like, ‘look at that, Henderson just blew up,’ forgetting we had just moved to Henderson three months earlier,” Sloane said.
The disaster caused $100 million in property damage to businesses and homes. It also ruptured a natural gas line.
“It was like in a war zone.”
Sloane’s new home, near Warm Springs and Valle Verde, was badly damaged.
“Every house window was blown in. There was $40,000 in damage done to the house,” recalled Sloane. “There were shards of glass stuck in the walls. We were thankful we weren’t home, because had we been standing around, who knows what would have happened.”
Every year around her daughter’s birthday, the picture of the explosion pops up in her mind.
“It is just something that pops up every year, and we will always remember.”
PEPCON changed its name to American Pacific and is now based in Cedar City, Utah.