VIDEOS: This weekend's graduation day marks 25 years since a tragic fire in a UNC fraternity house killed five students.
The painful date is etched in local memory: May 12, 1996.
It was graduation day – and Mother's Day.
A smoldering cigarette sent the Phi Gamma Delta house up in flames, killing five students and injuring three on what should have been a happy day of commencement.
“It rocked my soul. It rocked my whole body,” said Bonnie Woodruff, who lost her son, Ben, in the Mother's Day fire. Her son's death became a rallying cry for Woodruff, who channeled the pain and loss into activism to save other students from suffering the same fate. She lobbied for all buildings in North Carolina to have fire sprinklers.
"There has never been multiple deaths in North America in a building that has been sprinklered," she said.