10 Years After Bonfire Collapse

Today, on the 10th anniversary of the Bonfire collapse at Texas A&M University, the mood is somber and reflective. We remember the 12 that died and the 27 that were injured. There are remembrances and stories of the past. The local television news on KBTX asked the question:

Where Were You When Bonfire Fell?
As a community marks ten years since 12 Aggies lost their lives, people are remembering where they were and what they were thinking a decade ago. Source: Where Were You When Bonfire Fell? | KBTX.com

My post was as follows (I know I misspelled St. Joseph.)

Posted by: Chris Location: Bryan on Nov 18, 2009 at 09:37 AM

I was with my ex-wife in the St. Joesph emergency room. She was waiting for a shot for a migraine when the nurse came in and said we had to leave. She said that Bonfire collapsed, and they were receiving several injured.

Collapse of Bonfire 1994

Collapse of Bonfire 1994

As I blogged earlier, the debate about Bonfire’s return is still going on after 10 years. The governor, and former Aggie, Rick Perry, thinks it will come back to campus, maybe as soon as 2010, but he left it up to the Board of Regents and the students.

Lest we  forget, in 1994, the stack collapsed as seen in this picture from youtube.com. Two cases of collapse – although for different reasons – should stand as a reminder that stacking thousands of trees upright is very dangerous. Even if they are engineered to stand-up, gravity wins out sometimes. With that amount of risk, and its safety record, I don’t see how any insurance company will cover the cut, build and burn of Bonfire.

I also think burning thousands of logs is not only dangerous (sparks can fly for miles) but it is very ecologically irresponsible. I thought that the first time I heard of Bonfire (1995) and I think that now. I’m not a tree-hugger, but I don’t cherish the thought of billions of tons of CO2 going into the atmosphere for nothing – no homes are being heated, no electricity is created, no waste is being consumed.

…burning a tree is the carbon equivalent of driving a gas-guzzling SUV 15,000 miles a year. Source: SUVs vs. Trees, CO2 Emissions & The Environment

If Bonfire Returns

On this, the 8th anniversary of the “9/11″ terror attack and collapse of the Twin Towers, are Aggies seriously considering bringing back Bonfire to the Texas A&M campus in College Station?

Paul Burka, Governor Rick Perry, even former university president Ray Bowen, and others have made mention – at least in passing – that Bonfire can/should return to campus and burn again.

Why does Burka keep harping on Bonfire? The words that are said and the way they are said makes it seem like Ags are hell-bent on melting the polar ice caps and raising the average global temperature a few degrees.

Not only is Bonfire dangerous – no matter who builds it – but it’s evironmentally insane. It needlessly forces tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. I thought it was crazy when I first heard about it in 1995, and I still think that it’s crazy to “build” something as massive as Bonfire and then BURN it!

I’m all for traditions. Traditions build unity and keep the past fresh. Aggie Muster is an example of a Tradition. First Yell is an example of a good Tradition. Bonfire is a good example of putting people at risk during “cut” and “build” and contributing to the harm of future generations during “burn”. I think it’s time to put Bonfire to rest and maybe say a prayer (or have a moment of silence) on November 18.

Source: Burkablog: Texas Monthly.

UPDATE:
From an e-mail from Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Interim President
September 15, 2009
There is a lot of discussion about bringing Bonfire back to campus as we prepare to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the tragedy. Bonfire brings out strong emotions in all of us. As an Aggie, interim president – and father – I believe that the parents who entrust us with their sons’ and daughters’ education expect us to first and foremost do what we can to help ensure their children’s physical safety and well-being. Please keep the families of the Aggies affected by the tragic collapse of Bonfire in your thoughts and prayers as we look ahead to November’s 10th anniversary.