Texas A&M president says traditional bonfire will not return as part of renewed Texas rivalry

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M's traditional bonfire, which ended 25 years ago after 12 people were killed and 27 more were wounded when the log stack collapsed during construction, will not return to campus for the renewal of the annual football rivalry with Texas, school President Mark Welsh III announced Tuesday.

A special committee had recommended bringing it back as part of a the school's celebration of the restart of the rivalry with the Longhorns next season. The recommendation had called for a bonfire designed by and built by professional engineers and contractors.

Welsh said he considered public input and noted that many who responded did not want to bring it back if students were not organizing, leading and building the bonfire. The committee, however, had said the only viable option would be to have it professionally built.

“After careful consideration, I have decided that Bonfire, both a wonderful and tragic part of Aggie history, should remain in our treasured past,” Welsh said in a statement.

The traditional bonfire before the Aggies-Longhorns football game dated to 1909. The 60-foot structure with about 5,000 logs collapsed in the early-morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999, killing 11 students and one former student. The school has a campus memorial for the tragedy, and Welsh noted the upcoming 25th anniversary.

“That sacred place will remain the centerpiece of how we remember the beloved tradition and the dedication of those involved in the tragic 1999 collapse,” Welsh said. “We will continue to hold them and their families close at that event and always.”

Texas plays at Texas A&M on Nov. 30 as the Longhorns join the Southeastern Conference this season. The rivalry split after the 2011 season after Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC.

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