Fire at Minot destroys missile alert facility

11/30/00 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. (AFPN) - A fire broke out at an Air Force missile alert facility near Minot Air Force Base Nov. 30, destroying the above-ground facility before being extinguished. No one was injured during the incident.

Missile Alert Facility Golf-01, located 60 miles south of the base, caught fire at approximately 5 a.m. All 13 people in the missile alert facility were safely evacuated and local fire crews from Plaza and Parshall, N.D. responded.

The two-member missile crew, working approximately 65 feet below the MAF, became self-contained in the launch control center after they closed the blast doors due to the fire. The crewmembers continued to carry out their normal duties of monitoring the 10 Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles under their direct control.

On scene officials have access to the two crewmembers in the launch control center and a relief missile crew is en route to relieve them.

If required, the missileers can remain underground for several days using their own air, water, food and power supply. Control of the missiles can be transferred to another LCC if necessary.

The ICBMs assigned to the facility are safe and secure. The fire posed no threat to the missiles, which are located several miles from the monitor facility. Also, the fire burned only on Air Force property and no civilian property was endangered.

The fire was discovered when occupants of the facility smelled smoke. Emergency response teams were immediately called. Both civilian and Air Force fire departments arrived on scene, but the fire rapidly spread throughout the facility. Fire officials made the determination that damage to the facility was too extensive and fighting the fire would only serve to endanger lives.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. The Air Force will conduct an investigation to determine the cause. The facility, constructed in the early 1960s and estimated to be worth between $2.5 to $3 million, is expected to be a total loss. The facility will be rebuilt, but how and when is still to be determined.

This is the first major fire at a U.S. missile alert facility. Previous fires were small and were easily extinguished. All MAFs are equipped with fire extinguishers and heat and smoke detectors.

There are 15 Minuteman III missile alert facilities at Minot. Each MAF is a relatively small complex consisting of the underground LCC and an above-ground building that houses the equipment necessary for it to be self-sufficient and provide for the needs of the missile combat crew, security forces, facility chef and transient maintenance personnel. (Courtesy of Air Force Space Command News Service)