1988 PEPCON Explosion In Henderson, NV Facts & Figures
Check our News & Info page to get the lowdown on what's up in Las Vegas and read tomorrow's history, today.
May 4, 2018 marks the 30th anniversary of the PEPCON explosion in Henderson, NV.
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 1988.
Time: Initial fire began between 11:30 and 11:40 AM, PDT.
Location: Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada (PEPCON), Henderson NV. "Ground Zero" is considered to be 103 Corporate Park Drive which is located between N. Gibson and N. Stephanie to the east and west and American Pacific Drive and the 215 Beltway to the north and south, respectively, and approximately 10 miles southeast of downtown Las Vegas.
Cause: Officially unknown. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) stated the fire was created by workers welding steel that spread to fiberglass materials and nearby ammonium perchlorate residue. The United States Department of Labor (USDL) discredited the theory due to eyewitness testimony and scientific burn tests.
Number injured: 372.
Property Damage: Estimated $100 Million ($207 Million in 2017 Dollars). 3,176 residences were damaged.
Number of explosions: 7.
TNT Equivalency: The largest explosion was believed to be equal to 1.0 Kilotons of TNT.
Richter Scale: The two largest blasts measured 3.0 and 3.5 on the Richter Scale.
Impact Radius: Structures were damaged within a 10-mile radius.
Detonation Impression: The final blast left a crater approximately 15 feet deep and 200 feet long.
NASA Case Study: The PEPCON explosion was the largest domestic, non-nuclear explosion in recorded history.
Las Vegas Hilton: Located on Paradise Road and north of the Convention Center, it was reported windows shattered as a result of the blast. An early radio report noted an individual was knocked down on the 13th floor.
Ammonium perchlorate: Approximately 4,000 tons of an oxidizer used in solid fuel rocket boosters, ammonium perchlorate, were stored at the facility after PEPCON was allowed to continue to produce the material without any regulations for storage or shipping. Used in military weapons and the Space Shuttle, the amounts in storage grew as the United States suspended the Space Shuttle missions after the 1986 Challenger explosion. The largest explosion is estimated to have been the result of 1,500 tons.
Cattle Baron's Casino: The newly constructed casino located 2.6 miles north, north-east of the blast had 8 of 12 large windows broken.
Bertha's Furniture Store: Located along the Sahara Expressway and east of Maryland Parkway, about 9.3 miles from the blast, the furniture store had two of its four large plate glass-windows broken.
Kidd Marshmallow Plant: Located just 500 feet from PEPCON, the factory was completely destroyed.
$1,000,000: The total amount of PEPCON's insurance policy.
Video Of The 1988 PEPCON Disaster In Henderson, NV
Blast Zone's Development Since 1990
Fortunately, the area surrounding the PEPCON plant was sparsely populated in 1988. As with much of the Las Vegas Valley, Henderson would undergo unprecedented growth in the years to come. Below is a composite of aerial views from over the years showing "Ground Zero" at 103 Corporate Park Drive as well as the subsequent urbanization of the surrounding areas.
Sandia National Laboratory Analysis of the Accidental Explosion at Pepcon, Henderson, Nevada, May 4, 1988
United States Fire Administration Technical Report Series
- 5 things to know about the PEPCON disaster, 28 years later - LVRJ
Destruction in the Desert Documentary
World’s Most Amazing Videos: PEPCON Disaster
10+ Minute History Channel Segment
1988 Time Capsule
No. 1 Book, May 4th 1988: The Icarus Agenda - Robert Ludlum
Cost For 1 Gallon Of Gas: $0.91
Average Income in 1988: $24,450.00
Average Monthly Rent in 1988: $420.00
Average New Car Cost in 1988: $10,400.00