Pipeline memories: Explosion jolted middle school graduation day

It was June 10th, the day of our daughter, Liz Jenkins', eighth-grade graduation from Fairhaven Middle School. Our family was getting ready to leave to go over to the school for the ceremony. But first, family photos outside. It was such a pretty day.

Just then - a loud explosion! It shook the house. We ran outside. I remember we thought Mount Baker had erupted, as we walked to the north and saw the dark smoke plume growing larger each second.

The kids quickly posed for pictures to document the moment. We had to hurry as we needed to leave for the school.

Then the phone rang. It was our renters, college students, who lived in our rental on King Street and Iowa. They said there was a huge fire near the house. She could see the flames and thought the fire was coming down the alley to the house. We told them to get out!

Then my husband, Jim, left in his truck to go check on the house. I was worried, as I didn't know what he was driving into (this was before cell phones). He promised to join us later.

I got the kids into the car and over to the school a little late. No one else we spoke to knew anything about an explosion.

The focus turned to the eighth-graders and the proud day.

Jim arrived about 45 minutes later. The girls and the house were fine.

He reported that firemen and policemen were everywhere in the area, roping off streets. They let him through to check on the house. The fire damage was about one block away. He still did not know what the source was. None of us would until much later.