Residents in New London gathered at West Rusk High School Saturday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the natural gas explosion at New London School that took the lives of nearly 300 people.

On March 18, 1937 nobody realized a natural gas leak under the New London School building until a spark ignited the explosion.

James Miller lost his brother in the explosion and attended Saturday’s ceremony.

“Buddy had wanted to go with dad to Tyler...But dad said no you better go to school and that was the fatal day.”

The New London explosion led to changes in state law requiring a odor emitting additive be added to all natural gas to making it noticeable in the event of a leak.