NEW LONDON, Texas (KETK) – It was a day of remembrance for the 294 lives lost at the New London School explosion 85 years ago on Saturday.

Billy Jack Hunnicutt was four years old when a natural gas explosion blew up the school that is now West Rusk Jr. High.

Hundreds of people gathered for a ceremony honoring the men, women and children who died. Out of everyone in attendance, there were only two survivors.

“I was in the gymnasium when it blew,” Hunnicutt said.

He said had there been the slightest change of plans that day he wouldn’t be there that day.

“We had previously been in the main building here in the auditorium, it was a PTA meeting, there were too many people so before it started they evacuated us all out to the gym where there was more room,” he said. “And about the time it was over with is when the school blew up.”

Fighting tears, Hunnicutt said he lost his cousin that day and his life has never been the same.

After the ceremony, alumni from classes as far back as 1940 gathered to reunite and pay tribute to those who lost their lives.

This tragedy is what led to chemicals being added to natural gas to create a rotten egg smell that now acts as a warning.