Bellingham marks 25 years since deadly pipeline explosion

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — An emotional day marking a solemn anniversary, 25 years after a massive fuel leak and deadly explosion in Bellingham.

Now the community is gathering to honor the three young lives lost that day.

For those who were alive, the Olympic Pipeline explosion in 1999 remains a memory many in Bellingham say they will likely never forget.

At this hour, the city is holding a Community Gathering of Remembrance to honor the lives lost and those forever changed.

Everyone feeling some of those emotions, especially after speaking to those who knew and loved the three people who died.

Now gathering here at Bellingham High School as the community remembers, together.

I talked to the parents of one of those victims earlier today.

“Saddest day of my life,” said Mary King. “And a new beginning to a life I never thought would be happy again, you know.”

The tears still come easily for Mary King when talking about her son Wade, forever frozen as a 10-year-old, killed alongside his 10-year-old friend Stephen Tsiorvas, in a massive fuel explosion that may have spared the lives of so many others.

“The fire started where they were at,” said Frank King, Wade’s father. “And who knows what would have happened had the gas gone all the way down to Bellingham.”

They stood on the spot where the Olympic Pipeline once lay underground.

Around 237-thousand gallons of fuel leaked for hours into Hannah Creek and Whatcom Creek before exploding into a massive fireball of destruction.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Wood died while fishing, overcome by fumes even before they gave way to flames.

Now everyone who uses Whatcom Park can read about them and the improvements made in pipeline safety across the country. Ultimately leaving a legacy, Wade’s mother says, of joy.

“That would be my goal in life to spread the joy the way Wade is not able to spread,” she said, her voice breaking, “in his name.”

They are now inside Bellingham High School along with the relatives and friends of Stephen and Liam so their lives won’t be forgotten that all will know their legacy will also mean a safer future for us all.

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