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PEPCON worker remembers massive 1988 explosion |

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PEPCON worker remembers massive 1988 explosion

It's been three decades since one of largest explosions in U.S. history and it happened in the the Las Vegas valley.

It was at the Pacific Engineering Production Company of Nevada -- also known as PEPCON.

Thirty years ago on May 4, the valley was rocked by a massive explosion at the PEPCON chemical plant in Henderson.

It could be felt from miles away as it shook the entire valley. Though its been decades since then, it's still very vivid for a man who witnessed it all.

"It does not feel like it has been 30 years," said Dave Thayer, PEPCON worker.

He was a processing engineer at the time of the incident and survived the explosion, but the haunting memories of that day are still with him.

"I could see the smoke and some of the flames from where my office was located," Thayer said. "The first small explosion was strong enough that it actually knocked some of the windows out."

The whole plant burst in flames. Shock waves from the explosion destroyed buildings miles away and two lives were lost that day and 370 people were injured.

"Most everybody that was up in the plant was running out," Thayer said.

Authorities later determined the explosions were set off by sparks from a welding torch. NASA calls it the largest domestic non-nuclear explosion in recorded history.

Now COO of that same company -- three decades later -- Thayer says the incident will always be a part of his life.

"Usually when it gets around this time of year and you look at the calendar and you say wow that's right May 4th is coming up."

The company has since changed its name to American Pacific and is now based in Cedar City, Utah.

The corporation built a remediation facility in Henderson in 2006 near the original blast site to help clean up groundwater from the decades of chemical seepage.

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