The Texas A&M Bonfire of 1999 is one we will never forget. 12 people lost their lives, and 27 more were injured. Tomorrow, November 18th, marks the 10 year anniversary of that tragic day in which the bonfire collapsed. Read more below.
Texas A&M University will hold a memorial ceremony this evening at A&M’s basketball arena to remember those who lost their lives and were injured during the bonfire collapse.
On that tragic day, A&M former and current students were constructing a 59 foot high tower of around 5000 logs when it collapsed at 2:30 A.M. November 18,1999. Rescue efforts would last over 24 hours, and students, football players, and the school’s Corps of Cadets were on hand to manually remove the logs to search for survivors.
The Texas A&M bonfire is an annual tradition, which started in 1909, where students spend several months building the tower of logs. It is lit the night before the school’s football game against rival Texas.
Since the 1999 tragedy, the bonfires were no longer held on campus. Some are now debating whether it should be brought back and allowed back on campus. Larry and Neva Hand, whose daughter Jamie was one of the victims, feel very strongly it should not return. Neva Hand said:
“Unless you could 100-percent guarantee that something like that would not happen again, then there’s just no way that they should allow it to be on campus.”
Even Texas Governor Rick Perry, a former Aggie himself, is wanting the bonfire tradition to return to the school. Ray Bowen, who was A&M president at the time of the collapse, agrees that the bonfire is part of Aggie tradition but feels “it should not be seen as the manifestation of what we are.”
Over 10,000 people are expected to attend tonight and at 2:42 A.M. on Wednesday, a candlelight vigil will be held at the site of the collapse.
I’ve put up a tribute video of the Texas A&M Bonfire below.