Remembering the PEPCON disaster 34 years later

Pepcon explosion remembered 34 years later.
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 11:29 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - If you lived in the Las Vegas Valley in 1988, you remember it well. The deadly PEPCON disaster rocked the valley 34 years ago.

“There were seven explosions all together. The final one was a 3.5 on the Richter scale it is the largest civilian explosion in the history of the united states,” local historian Mark Hall-Patton said. “It left a crater that was 15 feet wide and 200 feet long.”

In total, nearly 400 people were injured and two people were killed.

“In Henderson rooms were picked up and dropped back down,” Hall-Patton said. “Windows were blown out. Walls were blown out. Garage doors were buckled.”

At the time, Pacific Engineering and Production Corporation of Nevada (PEPCON) was one of two American producers of the chemical ammonium perchlorate.

“It was necessary for the space program, but ammonium perchlorate is a really unstable chemical,” Hall-Patton said.

The damages were estimated at over $70 million. Investigators believed the explosion sparked from a welders torch.