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Forest fire forces closure of nuclear facility in Texas

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Forest fire in Texas (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Forest fire threatens nuclear facility in Texas.
  • Residents are being evacuated.
  • Pantex nuclear weapon plant suspends operations.

As the situation becomes increasingly worrisome, wildfires that are spreading rapidly through the state of Texas have generated chaos and panic among residents.

On Tuesday, authorities were forced to issue evacuation orders in several small cities.

One of the country’s main nuclear weapons facilities was closed due to the threat of fire.

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Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration for a total of 60 counties.

The Texas A&M Forest Service reported that the largest fire has already devoured about 400 square miles (approximately 1,000 square kilometers).

This means it has more than doubled its size since it started burning last Monday.

So far, authorities have not been able to determine what caused this disastrous fire that has devastated sparsely populated counties in the middle of vast plains.

Governor Greg Abbott released a statement

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«Texans are urged to limit activities that could create sparks and take precautions to keep their loved ones safe,» Abbott’s statement reads.

The largest fire, known as the Smokehouse Creek Fire, is only 3% contained, according to the AP.

The response team remains on high alert, according to Forest Service reports.

However, the most shocking news came with the closure of Pantex, the main U.S. nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly facility.

Nuclear facility closed due to Texas forest fires

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Pantex is located just 30 miles (48 kilometers) east of Amarillo, Texas.

The emergency situation resulting from nearby forest fires forced the immediate suspension of all operations at this plant, as a precautionary measure.

In an official statement released online, Pantex announced it was closing temporarily.

«We have evacuated our personnel, non-essential personnel from the site, just in an abundance of caution,»  Laef Pendergraft, a spokesperson for National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office at Pantex, said in a press conference.

An unprecedented situation

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Since its establishment in 1975, Pantex has been the epicenter of atomic bomb assembly and disassembly.

It plays a crucial role in the country’s nuclear security.

Over the years, it has dismantled thousands of nuclear weapons, being a fundamental pillar of the country’s nuclear non-proliferation policy.

The closure of Pantex due to wildfires represents an unprecedented situation in the history of this facility, which has faced numerous challenges over the decades.

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