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The City of Henderson, more often than not called simply "Henderson," is in Clark County, Nevada. Once named Midway City, it war renamed Henderson in honor of Senator Charles Belknap Henderson. The first seeds of what is now the second largest city in Nevada were sown in 1941, at the beginning of World War II, when the 2,800-acre Basic Magnesium Plant was built, making Henderson the biggest supplier of magnesium in the United States. Basic Magnesium supplied the War Department with magnesium, which was called the "miracle metal" of the war, for plane engines, frames, and munition casings.  But once the war was over, the future of the Basic Magnesium Plant was not certain, due to the fact that magnesium was not in demand, and in 1947 alone, the bulk of the company's 14,000 employees moved away, taking two-thirds of the town's students with them, more than half of the homes were left vacant, and the federal government was offering Henderson for sale as a war surplus property. In an effort to save the city from being sold as surplus, the Nevada State Legislature unanimously voted in a bill to hand the administration of the Basic Magnesium to the state of Nevada by authorizing the Colorado River Commission of Nevada to buy the magnesium plants. On March 27, 1947, Governor Vail Pittman signed the bill, thus, Henderson was saved. In April of 1953, the City of Henderson was incorporated. The population that year was 7,410 people. In 1988, the Pacific Engineering and Production Company of Nevada, known commonly as PEPCON, a company in Henderson manufactured ammonium perchlorate. Ammonium perchlorate, or AP, is an oxidizer used in solid propellant rocket boosters. PEPCON was, in fact, one of only two producers of AP in the United States. And on May 4, 1988, the rocket fuel plant caught fire. The fire spread quickly, engulfing the factory and emitting rocket fuel and toxins into the air. Before any agencies could arrive, a huge explosion, followed quickly by six smaller ones, rocked the area. So massive were these explosions that they broke windows and damaged buildings throughout the Las Vegas Valley. The nearby Kidd & Co. marshmallow factory was successfully evacuated. By some miracle, only two people were killed, while 372 were injured. The two who were killed, PEPCON's controller who had remained in the plant to call the fire department and the plant manager were killed in the last of the two biggest explosions. About 100 patients were taken to five hospitals in the area, and about 300 more drove themselves to hospitals. The explosions and fire had literally leveled the rocket fuel plant and the Kidd & Co. marshmallow factory. Investigators estimated that the largest of the seven or so explosions was equal to kiloton of TNT, which is the same as a tactical nuclear weapon. There are numerous theories about what happened that day, with various agencies contradicting the theories of other agencies. But all agree that damages from the fire and explosion were in excess of $100 million. The rebuilding of the area brought businesses into the area, bringing it to where it is today, which has Henderson positioned as second largest city in Nevada. The PEPCON site now houses mostly office buildings, while the Kidd & Co. Marshmallow plant was rebuilt and still manufactures marshmallows. There are no longer any signs that the explosion, the largest non-nuclear explosion, ever happened.

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