Some Eyewitness Accounts of the WTC 7 Fires
Finding 2.25: The fire alarm system that was monitoring WTC 7 sent to the monitoring company only one signal (at 10:00:52 a.m. shortly after the collapse of WTC 2) indicating a fire condition in the building on September 11, 2001. This signal did not contain any specific information about the location of the fire within the building. [The alarm had been set to “test” mode due to maintenance work] http://wtc.nist.gov/progress_report_june04/chapter1.pdf (pg28)
1. We walked over by number Seven World Trade Center as it was burning and saw this 40-plus story building with fire on nearly all floors. –FDNY Lieutenant Robert LaRocca
2. ...Just when you thought it was over, you're walking by this building and you're hearing this building creak and fully involved in flames. It's like, is it coming down next? Sure enough, about a half an hour later it came down. –FDNY Lieutenant James McGlynn
3. I walked out and I got to Vesey and West, where I reported to Frank [Cruthers]. He said, we’re moving the command post over this way, that building’s coming down. At this point, the fire was going virtually on every floor, heavy fire and smoke that really wasn’t bothering us when we were searching because it was being pushed southeast and we were a little bit west of that. I remember standing just where West and Vesey start to rise toward the entrance we were using in the World Financial Center. There were a couple of guys standing with me and a couple of guys right at the intersection, and we were trying to back them up – and here goes 7. It started to come down and now people were starting to run. –FDNY Deputy Chief Nick Visconti http://www.firehouse.com/terrorist/911/magazine/gz/visconti.html
4. All morning I was watching 7 World Trade burn, which we couldn't do anything about because it was so much chaos looking for missing members. –Firefighter Marcel Klaes http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110018.PDF
5. When the building came down it was completely involved in fire, all forty-seven stories.
–FDNY Assistant Chief Harry Myers (Smith, Dennis, 2002. Report From Ground Zero: The Heroic Story of the Rescuers at the World Trade Center. New York: Penguin Putnam. p. 160)
6. The concern there again, it was later in the afternoon, 2, 2:30, like I said. The fear then was Seven. Seven was free burning. Search had been made of 7 already from what they said so they had us back up to that point where we were waiting for 7 to come down to operate from the north back down. –Captain Robert Sohmer http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110472.PDF
7. Then we had to move because the Duane Reade, they said, wasn't safe because building 7 was really roaring. –FDNY Chief Medical Officer Kerry Kelly.
9. Chief Cruthers told me that they had formed another command post up on Chambers Street. At this point there were a couple of floors burning on Seven World Trade Center. Chief McNally wanted to try and put that fire out, and he was trying to coordinate with the command post up on Chambers Street. This is after searching for a while. He had me running back and forth trying to get companies to go into Seven World Trade Center. His radio didn't seem to be working right either because he had me relaying information back and forth and Chief Cruthers had me --
Q. So everything was face-to-face? Nothing was by radio?
A. Yeah, and it was really in disarray. It really was in complete disarray. We never really got an operation going at Seven World Trade Center. –FDNY Captain Michael Donovan
10. Building #7 was still actively burning and at that time we were advised by a NYFD Chief that building #7 was burning out of control and imminent collapse was probable. –PAPD P.O. Edward McQuade http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports02.pdf page 48.
11. At Vesey St. and West St., I could see that 7 WTC was ablaze and damaged, along with other buildings.
[Note: the fires in 7 were probably not mainly due to damage from the south tower, but from the north.]
12. So yeah then we just stayed on Vesey until building Seven came down. There was nothing we could do. The flames were coming out of every window of that building from the explosion of the south tower. So then building Seven came down. When that started coming down you heard that pancaking sound again everyone jumped up and starts.
Q: Why was building Seven on fire? Was that flaming debris from tower two, from tower two that fell onto that building and lit it on fire?
A: Correct. Because it really got going, that building Seven, saw it late in the day and like the first Seven floors were on fire. It looked like heavy fire on seven floors. It was fully engulfed, that whole building. There were pieces of tower two [sic: he probably means tower one] in building Seven and the corners of the building missing and whatnot. But just looking up at it from ground level however many stories -- it was 40 some odd -- you could see the flames going straight through from one side of the building to the other, that’s an entire block. –Firefighter Tiernach Cassidy
13. "We were down about a block from the base of the World Trade Center towers about an hour ago. And there was a great deal of concern at that time, the firemen said building number 7 was going to collapse, building number five was in danger of collapsing. And there's so little they can do to try to fight the fires in these buildings, because the fires are so massive. And so much of the buildings continues to fall into the street. When you're down there, Dan, you hear smaller secondary explosions going off every 15 or 20 minutes, and so it's an extremely dangerous place to be."
14. Well, they said that's (7) fully involved at this time. This was a fully involved building. I said, all right, they're not coming for us for a while. Now you're trapped in this rubble, and you're trying to get a grasp of an idea of what's going on there. I heard on the handy talky that we are now fighting a 40-story building fully involved. Now you're trapped in the rubble and the guys who are there are fighting the worst high-rise fire in the history of New York or history of the world, probably, I don't know, 40, story building fully involved, I guess that was probably the worst.
I was, needless to say, scared to death that something else was going to fall on us, that this building was going to come down and we were all going to die, after surviving the worst of it. [Note: I deleted the link this account, and searching the net for the text doesn’t turn up anything. This sounds like an account from north tower stairwell B survivor. Anyone who knows for sure, let me know.]
15. And 7 World Trade was burning up at the time. We could see it. ... the fire at 7 World Trade was working its way from the front of the building northbound to the back of the building. There was no way there could be water put on it, because there was no water in the area. –Firefighter Eugene Kelty Jr.
16. The time was approximately 11a.m. Both of the WTC towers were collapsed and the streets were covered with debris. Building #7 was still standing but burning. ...We spoke to with a FDNY Chief who has his men holed up in the US Post Office building. He informed us that the fires in building 7 were uncontrollable and that its collapse was imminent. There were no fires inside the loading dock (of 7) at this time but we could hear explosions deep inside. –PAPD P.O. William Connors http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports04.pdf page 69
17. "There's number Seven World Trade. That's the OEM bunker." We had a snicker about that. We looked over, and it's engulfed in flames and starting to collapse.
We're kind of caught in traffic and people and things, and everything's going on. We hear over the fire portable, "Everybody evacuate the site. It's going to collapse." Mark Steffens starts yelling, "Get out of here! Get out of here! Get out of here! We've got to go! We've got to go! It's going to collapse." I turned around, and I piped up real loud and said, "Stay in the frigging car. Roll the windows up. It's pancake collapsing. We'll be fine. The debris will quit and the cloud will come through. Just stay in the car." We pulled the car over, turned around and just watched it pancake. We had a dust cloud but nothing like it was before. –Paramedic Louis Cook http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110103.PDF
Building 7 fire makes rescuer of NT stairwell victim’s route impassable (just before collapse):
I remember it was bad and I'm going to get to a point where we came back that way on the way up. We couldn't even go that way, that's how bad the fire was, but by the time I was coming back it was rolling, more than a couple of floors, just fully involved, rolling.
...So now it's us 4 and we are walking towards it and I remember it would have at one point been an easier path to go towards our right, but being building 7 -- that must have been building 7 I'm guessing with that fire, we decided to stay away from that because things were just crackling, falling and whatnot.
So as I’m going back, that fire that was on my right is now on my left. I’m backtracking and that fire is really going and on the hike towards there, we put down our masks, which at this point started to realize maybe it would have been good thing if we had this mask on the way back, but then again between the fire and about halfway when I was on the way back, I got a radio call from the guys that we left and it was Johnny Colon the chauffeur of 43, who was effecting a different rescue. He was carrying somebody out.
He had called me and said “Hey Jerry don’t try and get back out the way you went in which was big heads up move because he said that building was rolling on top of the building that we were passing. That building was on fire and likely to collapse more too.
Between Picciotto asking me are you sure we can get out this way because it really didn’t look good with that fire and my guy telling me that you better not because of the area we crawled in was unattainable now too. ...we started going back the other way.
Q: Would that be towards West Street?
A: That would have been back towards what I know is the Winter Garden....[west]
18. I remember Chief Hayden saying to me, "We have a six-story building over there, a seven-story building, fully involved." At that time he said, "7 has got fire on several floors." He said, "We've got a ten-story over there, another ten-story over there, a six-story over there, a 13-story over there." He just looked at me and said, "Fuck 'em all. Let 'em burn." He said, "Just tell the guys to keep looking for guys. Just keep looking for the brothers. We've got people trapped. We've got to get them out." –Lieutenant William Ryan http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110117.PDF
19. I walked around the building to get back to the command post and that's when they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down. ...They had three floors of fire on three separate floors, probably 10, 11 and 15 it looked like, just burning merrily. It was pretty amazing, you know, it's the afternoon in lower Manhattan, a major high-rise is burning, and they said 'we know.' –FDNY Chief Thomas McCarthy
20. We were champing at the bit," says WCBS-TV reporter Vince DeMentri of his decision to sneak behind police barricades and report from 7 World Trade Center a half-hour before it collapsed. "I knew the story was in there." But after he and his cameraman slipped past officers, they lost all sense of direction. "From outside this zone, you could figure out where everything was," he says. "But inside, it was all destruction and blown-out buildings, and we had no clue. I walked into one building, but I had no idea where I was. The windows were all blown out. Computers, desks, furniture, and people's possessions were strewn all over." He found a picture of a little girl lying in the rubble. Then he realized that No. 7, aflame, was about fifteen to twenty feet ahead of him. "I looked up Barclay Street," he says. "There was nobody out. No bodies, no injured. Nobody. There were mounds of burning debris. It was like opening a broiler." http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/sept11/features/5183/index.html
21. They are worried that number 7 is burning and they are talking about not ceasing operations.
–Deputy Commissioner Frank Gribbon http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110167.PDF
22. There were hundreds of firefighters waiting to -- they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down as it was on fire. It was too dangerous to go in and fight the fire. –Assistant Commissioner James Drury http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110098.PDF
23. We assisted some FDNY personnel who were beginning to attempt to fight the fire at 7 WTC. We assisted in dragging hose they needed to bring water into the building. –Kenneth Kohlmann PAPD P.O. http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports04.pdf page 26
24. My first thoughts when I came down a little further into the site, south of Chambers Street, was, "Where am I?" I didn't recognize it. Obviously, the towers were gone. The only thing that remained standing was a section of the Vista Hotel. Building 7 was on fire. That was ready to come down. –Charlie Vitchers, Ground Zero Superintendent http://www.pbs.org/americarebuilds/profiles/profiles_vitchers_t.html
Some Eyewitness Accounts of the WTC 7 Damage & Surrounding Debris
1. The major concern at that time was number Seven, building number Seven, which had taken a big hit from the north tower. When it fell, it ripped steel out from between the third and sixth floors across the facade on Vesey Street. We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing. –FDNY Chief Frank Fellini
2. At that time, other firefighters started showing up, Deputy Battalion Chief Paul Ferran of the 41 Battalion, and James Savastano of the First Division assigned to the Second Battalion showed up and we attempted to search and extinguish, at the time which was small pockets of fire in 7 World Trade Center. We were unaware of the damage in the front of 7, because we were entering from the northeast entrance. We weren't aware of the magnitude of the damage in the front of the building. – FDNY Captain Anthony Varriale
3. [Shortly after the tower collapses] I don’t know how long this was going on, but I remember standing there looking over at building 7 and realizing that a big chunk of the lower floors had been taken out on the Vesey Street side. I looked up at the building and I saw smoke in it, but I really didn't see any fire at that time. Deputy ––Chief Nick Visconti http://tinyurl.com/paqux
4. A few minutes after that a police officer came up to me and told me that the façade in front of Seven World Trade Center was gone and they thought there was an imminent collapse of Seven World Trade Center. –FDNY Lieutenant William Melarango
5. I think they said they had seven to ten floors that were freestanding and they weren't going to send anyone in. –FDNY Chief Thomas McCarthy
6. So we go there and on the north and east side of 7 it didn’t look like there was any damage at all, but then you looked on the south side of 7 there had to be a hole 20 stories tall in the building, with fire on several floors.Debris was falling down on the building and it didn’t look good. But they had a hose line operating. Like I said, it was hitting the sidewalk across the street, but eventually they pulled back too.
Then we received an order from Fellini, we’re going to make a move on 7. That was the first time really my stomach tightened up because the building didn’t look good. I was figuring probably the standpipe systems were shot. There was no hydrant pressure. I wasn’t really keen on the idea. Then this other officer I’m standing next to said, that building doesn’t look straight. So I’m standing there. I’m looking at the building. It didn’t look right, but, well, we’ll go in, we’ll see.
So we gathered up rollups and most of us had masks at that time. We headed toward 7. And just around we were about a hundred yards away and Butch Brandeis came running up. He said forget it, nobody’s going into 7, there’s creaking, there are noises coming out of there, so we just stopped. And probably about 10 minutes after that, Visconti, he was on West Street, and I guess he had another report of further damage either in some basements and things like that, so Visconti said nobody goes into 7, so that was the final thing and that was abandoned.
Firehouse Magazine: When you looked at the south side, how close were you to the base of that side?
Boyle: I was standing right next to the building, probably right next to it.
Firehouse: When you had fire on the 20 floors, was it in one window or many?
There was a huge gaping hole and it was scattered through there. It was a huge hole. I would say it was probably a third of it, right in the middle of it. And so after Visconti came down and said nobody goes in 7, we said all right, we’ll head back to the command post. – Capt. Chris Boyle http://tinyurl.com/e7bzp
7. After the initial blast, Housing Authority worker Barry Jennings, 46, reported to a command center on the 23rd floor of 7 World Trade Center. He was with Michael Hess, the city's corporation counsel, when they felt and heard another explosion. First calling for help, they scrambled downstairs to the lobby, or what was left of it. "I looked around, the lobby was gone. It looked like hell," Jennings said.
8. Anyway, I was looking at WTC7 and I noticed that it wasn’t looking like it was straight. It was really weird. The closest corner to me (the SE corner) was kind of out of whack with the SW corner. It was impossible to tell whether that corner (the SW) was leaning over more or even if it was leaning the other way. With all of the smoke and the debris pile, I couldn’t exactly tell what was going on, but I sure could see the building was leaning over in a way it certainly should not be. I asked another guy looking with me and he said “That building is going to come down, we better get out of here.” So we did. –M.J., Employed at 45 Broadway.
9. So we left 7 World Trade Center, back down to the street, where I ran into Chief Coloe from the 1st Division, Captain Varriale, Engine 24, and Captain Varriale told Chief Coloe and myself that 7 World Trade Center was badly damaged on the south side and definitely in danger of collapse. Chief Coloe said we were going to evacuate the collapse zone around 7 World Trade Center, which we did. – FDNY Lieutenant Rudolph Weindler http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110462.PDF
10. Just moments before the south tower collapsed and, you know, when it happened we didn't know it was the south tower. We thought it was the north tower. There was a reporter of some sort, female with blond hair and her cameraman, an oriental fellow. They were setting up outside 7 World Trade Center, just east of the pedestrian bridge. I told them it would probably be better off to be set up under the bridge. At least it was protected. I was just about to enter a dialogue with her when I heard a sound I never heard before. I looked up and saw this huge cloud. I told him run. I grabbed the female, I threw her through the revolving doors of number 7.
We were proceeding inside. She fell to the ground. I helped her out, I pushed her towards the direction of where we were all in the south corner and there was a little doorway behind that desk which led into the loading bays. Everybody started to run through that. Never made it to that door. The next thing that I remember was that I was covered in some glass and some debris. Everything came crashing through the front of number 7. It was totally pitch black.
Q. Were you injured?
A. Yes, I saw some stuff had fallen on me. I didn't believe that I was injured at that time. I discovered later on I was injured. I had some shards of glass impaled in my head, but once I was able to get all this debris and rubble off of me and cover my face with my jacket so that I could breathe, it was very thick dust, you couldn't see. We heard some sounds. We reached out and felt our way around. I managed to find some other people in this lower lobby. We crawled over towards the direction where we thought the door was and as we approached it the door cracked open a little, so we had the lights from the loading bay. We made our way over there. The loading bay doors were 3-fourths of the way shut when this happened, so they took a lot of dust in there, but everyone in those bays was safe and secure. We had face to face contact with Chief Maggio and Captain Nahmod. They told me – I said do whatever you need to do, get these people out of here. Go, go towards the water. –EMS Division Chief Jon Peruggia
11. You could see the damage at 7 World Trade Center, the damage into the AT&T building.
–FDNY Firefighter Vincent Palmieri
12. At this point, 7, which is right there on Vesey, the whole corner of the building was missing. I was thinking to myself we are in a bad place, because it was the corner facing us. –Fred Marsilla, FDNY
13. The way we got into the loading dock [of WTC 7] was not the way we were getting out. It was obstructed.
Q. The door was blocked?
A. Yeah, and we found our way -- we walked across the loading dock area, and we found there was another door. We went in that door, and from there we were directed to -- I really guess it was like a basement area of the building, but we were directed to an opposite door. –Dr. Michael Guttenberg , NYC Office of Medical Affairs http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110005.PDF
14. We eventually ended up meeting after the second explosion, three of us met up here, but I didn't see a lot of the people that were with me until two, three days later. I got word that they were okay. For instance, Dr. Guttenberg and Dr. Asaeda, who were at 7 World Trade Center, they got trapped in there and had to like climb in and out and get out because that building also became very damaged supposedly and they were there. We thought they were dead. I guess he was in an area where Commissioner Tierney might have been, I believe. I think she was in 7 also. –Paramedic Manuel Delgado
15. The decision was either to go left or right and we ended up going right, between the two buildings, in the alleyway on the north, which turned out to be the right direction because apparently there was a lot of debris and part of 7 down already. Also, I did notice as I was making my exit the sound of the firefighters' alarms indicating that they were down. I did remember that as well but just could not see anything.
16. I saw the firefighter. There were people screaming out of one of these two buildings over here saying they couldn't get out, and my partner took one straggler fireman, the one that we had with us, and was trying to break the door because the door obviously had shifted or something. They couldn't get the door open.
Q. That was 7 World Trade Center?
A. I believe it was 7. Maybe it was 5. It was at the back end of it because I do remember the telephone company [which is next to building 7]. So I think it was the back end of 7, I think right over here at that point, and they couldn't get out. Then I had ran down the block and I flagged a ladder company and they brought the ladder, which they had like a vestibule that you couldn't like really reach the people because the ladder wouldn't reach. So they went and got other resources, they went inside the building, and I told my partner that it wasn't safe and that we need to go because everything around us was like falling apart.
Some Eyewitness Accounts of Rescuers being Withdrawn and
Held Back from WTC 7 due to Danger of Collapse
1. They backed me off the rig because Seven was in dead jeopardy, so they backed everybody off and moved us to the rear end of Vesey Street. We just stood there for a half hour, 40 minutes, because Seven was in imminent collapse and finally did come down. –Firefighter Thomas Smith
2. Chief Nigro directed me to continue monitoring conditions at the site. Specifically to monitor number 7 World Trade Center. We were very concerned with the collapse potential there, and to do whatever I could do to ensure site safety in that no additional people became injured. –FDNY Deputy Chief Harold Meyers
3. We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing. So for the next five or six hours we kept firefighters from working anywhere near that building, which included the whole north side of the World Trade Center complex. –Chief Frank Fellini
4. We made searches. We attempted to put some of the fire out, but we had a pressure problem. I forget the name of the Deputy. Some Deputy arrived at the scene and thought that the building was too dangerous to continue with operations, so we evacuated number 7 World Trade Center. –Captain Anthony Varriale
5. I remember him screaming about number 7, No. 7, that they wanted everybody away from 7 because 7 was definitely going to collapse, they don't know when, but it's definitely going to come down, just get the hell out of the way, everybody get away from it, make sure you're away from it, that's an order, you know, stuff like that. –Firefighter Edward Kennedy http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110502.PDF
6. Early on, there was concern that 7 World Trade Center might have been both impacted by the collapsing tower and had several fires in it and there was a concern that it might collapse. So we instructed that a collapse area --
Q. A collapse zone?
A. Yeah -- be set up and maintained so that when the expected collapse of 7 happened, we wouldn't have people working in it. There was considerable discussion with Con Ed regarding the substation in that building and the feeders and the oil coolants and so on. And their concern was of the type of fire we might have when it collapsed. They shut down the power, and when it did collapse, the things that they were concerned with would have been [sic]. That's about it. –Chief Frank Cruthers
7. There was concern. I had gone up to take a look at it, because I knew that the telephone company building, which is 140 West Street, was next to 7 World Trade Center, and there was a concern that if 7 World Trade came down, what would happen to this building? We went in there, we checked it out. There were some people in there. We made them evacuate and I went in the back to see what was happening. I went back and I reminded whoever the chief was, I don't know if it was Chief McKavanagh or Chief Blaich, that with 7 World Trade Center in danger of collapsing, you had to be careful, because Con Edison had big transformers in the back that supplied the lower half of Manhattan. So we had to be concerned about electricity, that this may be energized or not be energized. –Firefighter Eugene Kelty Jr.
9. It could have been an hour, hour and a half we were doing that before we were ordered to move away from that part of Tower No. 1 because there was an imminent danger of collapse of World Trade Center No. 5 and 7. –Firefighter Vandon Williams http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110282.PDF
10. Civilian photographer Tom Franklin: “Much of what happened to me on September 11 is a blur, but this moment I clearly remember: It was 4:45 p.m., and all the firemen and rescue workers were evacuating Ground Zero after word came that a third building -- WTC 7 -- was ready to fall.” http://archives.cjr.org/year/02/2/franklin.asp
11. Unidentified speaker in video: "Keep your eye on that building, it'll be coming down soon."
12. CBS-TV Reporter Vince DeMentri, who sneaked past security barriers to get close to the scene:
...Building 7 was going to collapse. That appears to be what has happened now. I don't know exactly how many stories the building is, Dan, but standing at the base of the building and watching it burn about an hour ago, it looked to be on the order of 50, 60 stories. [If anyone has the audio leading up to “...Building 7 was going to collapse,” let me know. I’m curious to know why the CT websites include only this much of the clip.] http://www.911podcasts.com/view.php?cat=4&med=0&ord=Name&strt=0&vid=24&epi=216&typ=0&form=0
13. So that was basically we watched that one come down. It was on fire first, I think the fourth floor was on fire they said. We were like are you guys going to put that fire out? I was like, you know, they are going to wait for it to burn down and it collapsed. So that's when I knew high rise buildings you know (inaudible).
Q: You were still there?
A: Yes, so basically they measured out how far the building was going to come, so we knew exactly where we could stand.
Q: So they just put you in a safe area, safe enough for when that building came down?
A: 5 blocks. 5 blocks away. We still could see. Exactly right on point, the cloud just stopped right there. Then when that building was coming down, that same rumbling. –EMT Decosta Wright
14. We went to get the car. We were inside the perimeter, more or less -- that's where the car was -- of where Seven World Trade Center was. We started back going east, I guess it is. ...We were inside this perimeter although we didn't realize it at the time we saw a rig with the compartments opened. We stopped. They were actually reversing. I kind of pulled up along side them. Murray yelled out the window “Your compartments are open.” The guy yelled something back at us. They kept backing up.
We went forward to imagine it’s the corner of Murray and West Street. Just as we were approaching it, we saw person run north in front of the car, and then Joe Mazzarella who was sitting in the passenger seat just started screaming “Reverse! Reverse! Reverse! Reverse!” I didn’t even look. I just threw it in reverse and punched it. We flew backwards without being able to see out the rear, and building Seven came down in front of us.
–Fire Marshal John Coyle http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110406.PDF
15. At this point, I moved up all the way to stairwell B. We got the lady out, passed her down, then they were trying to dig out, I believe it was a second Battalion Chief and I waited and stayed there with them until we were ordered—well, we were ordered several times, but the Captain of, I think it was a rescue company or a squad refused to leave. Finally he gave up, he said there was nothing he could do and we all left that area. This is in the collapse zone of tower 7.
At this point, I went down back to the middle area of the pile and I proceeded to make my way to the north side of the towers. At that point, I ran into Lieutenant Simms, who had another complement of Ladder 20 there. At this point, I guess I had formally reported into Deputy Chief Visconti. He was up on the North End. We waited until tower 7 collapsed and at this point, we went into the area and assessed the damage that was done to the buildings and to see if we could control the fires that resulted from the collapse of tower 7.
–Captain Richard Weldon http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110307.PDF
16. At that time Seven World Trade Center was burning and in was danger of collapsing. ...I guess it was a Chief was saying clear the area, because they were worried about number Seven World Trade Center coming down and burying guys who were digging. So basically we went back to the rig because they were clearing that area out. It took about three hours for Seven World Trade Center to actually come down. –Firefighter Kevin McGovern http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110301.PDF
17. I remember later in the day it was getting close that they were more concerned about Seven coming down. I remember later on in the day as we were waiting for Seven to come down, they kept backing us up Vesey, almost like a full block. They were concerned about Seven coming down, and they kept changing us, establishing a collapse zone and backing us up.
As soon as it came down, everybody got up and tore ass west down Vesey Street. Everybody was trying to get into this building. I remember there were 150 guys trying to get through two revolving doors with full gear. Everyone is screaming. Guys were trying to smash the glass with their halogens to get through and ended up freaking out. Everybody was shell-shocked.
That’s when Salka came up and he said all right now that Seven was down you can start getting closer and down things. There was no collapse threat anymore. –Firefighter Vincent Massa
18. Eventually they had ordered everybody away from the area again because of building 7.
–Lieutenant James Walsh http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110459.PDF
19. We stayed in this area for a while, and we started wandering around, and we came around to where 6 and 7 were, and actually 7, we were coming down this corner going trying to find something to do, and that's when they were telling us 7 is going to go, 7 is going to go, so we kind of backed away.
–Firefighter Paul Vasquez http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110397.PDF
20. Q: Did 7 collapse yet?
A: 7 hasn’t collapsed yet. We were being told by -- I guess everybody was being little insubordinate that day. Everyone wanted to do as much as they could, but we were told 5 minutes [to cease rescue operations on the pile], I don't know how many times. –Firefighter Gerard Suden
21. They had figured they knew that building was going to come down. It was just a question of time, and everybody was awaiting that. –Firefighter Russ Stroebel
22. A Battalion Chief was assigned to us. We took our apparatus to West Street to the north bridge, on that side over there, where we began to operate. We had identified different members who were deceased and trapped in rigs. We were about to proceed our operation there and this was in the afternoon, I would say approximately maybe 2:00 roughly, where we started to operate and then they asked us to fall back again due to the potential of 7 World Trade Center collapsing.
At that time, we had fallen back to probably opposite Stuyvesant High School, I believe it was on the west side there.
Q. That's uptown a little bit.
A. Right. They had us fall back to there. We stayed at that position until exactly when 7 collapsed. When 7 collapsed, we responded again. We had an Engine Company, a spare Engine Company with us and ourselves. We responded to just behind 7, which was, I think it was Greenwich, was it Washington or Greenwich? I think it was Greenwich. Is this Greenwich?
Q. It could be. I don't have a bigger map.
A. We turned the corner, 7 had just collapsed, the block that led into 7.
Q. Pretty sure that's Greenwich.
A. Greenwich and Park was covered with debris, there were burning autos and all debris. It was starting to extend into the buildings on both sides of the block. We went to hydrants in that area. We had off duty guys in our cells, but the hydrants had no water. We did whatever we could. The rigs actually were starting to become in danger of lighting up themselves.
We called trying to get water returned to us over here. Finally one of the members thought, we used it for a good period of time, we forced the door on one of the buildings there and used the water from the roof tanks. It was left in the gravity tanks. We took a two and a half line out of one of the doors. We were able to advance down Greenwich, stopping, putting fire out in the street, the cars and from getting into exposures.
They were worried about 7 at the time. The decision was made not to do it, not to get anybody else hurt. That's when we backed up and they said let's wait for this other building before we continue any work, because where the bridge was in the direct path of 7. It was the north bridge where we were looking initially.
We operated with the Tower Ladder there effectively on those buildings that were within our reach. Then the other part was unfortunately we couldn't do anything at the pedestrian bridge but the concern of 7, which they had no idea which way it was going to collapse and they just knew it was going to collapse and they positioned us outside of it.
The company to the south of us was -- it was a double digit -- I don't know if it was 14. I'm just stabbing at numbers now. It was just so much debris between cars, it was hard to see what was good and bad, stuff like that. But that was our main position right there. I would say from approximately about at least an hour, hour and a half between 4 and 5. They made us evacuate due to the fear of 7 coming down.
The Chief and myself went down to that area where we they wanted us to work. Seeing what we would need; torches, air bags, anything else like that to operate at that bridge.
The concern there again, it was later in the afternoon, 2, 2:30, like I said. The fear then was Seven. Seven was free burning. Search had been made of 7 already from what they said so they had us back up to that point where we were waiting for 7 to come down to operate from the north back down. –Captain Robert Sohmer http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110472.PDF
23. I remember finding Engine Company 6's rig, stripping that rig of fittings and hose to hook up to anybody else. I remember at that time also they were worried about Building 7 because when the second tower came down, they were worried about parts of – actually, when the first tower came down, they were worried about parts of Building 7 collapsing, so I remember getting into Building 7 and searching. I got separated from the crew that I had gone down with, because I stayed at the pump panel. They had gone around the West Street side of the building and into the rubble.
I remember coming out of the building now because they were afraid of Building 7 coming down, and all the other buildings around it getting knocked down. So they took us out of the building. –Firefighter Anthony Salerno http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110309.PDF
24. Then we found out, I guess around 3:00 o'clock, that they thought 7 was going to collapse. So, of course, we've got guys all in this pile over here and the main concern was get everybody out, and I guess it took us over an hour and a half, two hours to get everybody out of there.
So it took us a while and we ended up backing everybody out, and that's when 7 collapsed. Basically, we fell back for 7 to collapse, and then we waited a while and it got a lot more organized, I would guess. –Lieutenant William Ryan http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110117.PDF
25. But anyway, more to the point, a rumor started to develop that tower 7 was going to fall on us or nearby us. Having just lived through the collapse and having Dr. Kelly just live through the collapse with both of us getting buried, this was not a very pleasing feeling. It really does make me understand a lot about psychological stress that can occur in these events because I would not have had the same worry about this if I hadn't just come through one of them. We went outside to speak to the Chief, the head Chief. His name is Chief Haring. Great guy. But he said, you know, it's not going to be a problem. Tower 7 may collapse. It's not going to be anywhere near here. It's not going to be a problem. But we were really concerned about this.
By the time we were about done with this, we interacted with Chief Haring again. He basically was incredulous and said: "What are you crazy? You've moved into the collapse zone, and if this collapse occurs, the dust cloud is going to knock out that entire park. You're going to be useless there. You've made it worse."
About midway into setting up physically the second triage area, hanging the IV bags and everything, a tremendous noise occurs, and it's so loud that everybody rushes to the rear of the Pace University building, all the doctors, all the nurses. When the noise was over, we went to the front. The dust cloud from tower 7, just like Chief Haring said, wiped out that park. If we had had any supplies there, any doctors there, they wouldn't have been killed. I mean, it wasn't that massive the debris that fell on the park, but they would have been useless. The dust cloud went all the way up to the door of Pace University, up the stairs, across the street, right up to the door, the lobby door. –Dr. David Prezant
27. We were down there for a while until we were ordered off, because they were worried about Seven coming down. –Firefighter Michael Palone http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110314.PDF
28. I know when the Lieutenant told us where to go, that wasn’t the correct staging area, cause we were still too close to the buildings. They wanted everyone away from it. That’s when there was a third building that collapsed around that time.
30. Eventually later in the day we had to evacuate that site because number Seven collapsed. Prior to its collapse, we evacuated all the supplies, the doctors, and moved over to Pace University into the lobby, and they set up another medical area. Most injuries we treated were eye injuries from the debris, basically cleaning out people's eyes. –EMS Lieutenant John Mendez
32. At that point they were worried that 7 was coming down so they were calling for everyone to back out.
–Firefighter Matthew Long http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110021.PDF
33. 7 World Trade Center? I couldn’t even watch that. I said that’s enough. I refused to watch that. I took R-and-R. I said you guys can watch that one. But they got streams and they contained the fire. I mean, the objective was nobody else got killed, the fire did not jump the street. –Battalion Chief Frank Vallebuona http://www.firehouse.com/terrorist/911/magazine/gz/vallebunoa.html
34. We were starting to gather over there, and we heard that there was a building in danger of collapse. This was a couple hours later, maybe, and that huge building -- it was on that block. When that came down, we all ran down to the west side. –Firefighter Stephen Jezycki
36. Then at one point they chased us out of there for fear of collapse of a building; I believe it was Seven World Trade. So they got us out of there because they didn't know which way that building was going to collapse.
When Seven World Trade did collapse, we were in the Woolworth Building. You couldn't even see. It was unbelievable. You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face. That's how much dust and debris was flying around. –FDNY Captain John Henricksen
37. We heard a mayday for everybody to get out of the building (Verizon Bldg., next to WTC 7) -- no, I'm sorry, an "urgent," three "urgents," and we came out of the building. I'd say that was like an hour and a half, two hours later. We were then positioned on Vesey Street between North End and the West Side Highway because there was an imminent collapse on 7 World Trade, and it did collapse.
–Firefighter Brian Fitzpatrick http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110256.PDF
38. The only thing that had me really frustrated was they wasn't really trying to let us go back down there. (After the collapse of the second building). I understand after it was unsafe. Cause I guess after that 7 came down. Well 7 didn't come down until like 4, 5 o'clock. So I was just wondering, they just kept us cooped in there for a long time. –EMT Jarjean Felton
39. During the search we were ordered by one of the battalions to move north above -- towards Stuyvesant High School -- under the overpass at Chambers Street, because at that point it was feared that Six [sic: Seven] World Trade Center was going to collapse. It did so later in the afternoon. –Lieutenant Francis Farrington
40. Captain Michael Currid, the president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, said that some time after the collapse of the Twin Towers, “Someone from the city's Office of Emergency Management” told him that building 7 was “basically a lost cause and we should not lose anyone else trying to save it," after which the firefighters in the building were told to get out (Murphy, Dean E., 2002. September 11: An Oral History. New York: Doubleday pp. 175-76)
41. While we were searching the subbasements (of building 6) they decided that Seven World Trade Center which was across the street was going to collapse, so they called us out. We were so far down we couldn’t hear them, but we came out after we searched the subbasements. Actually we came out on the Seven World Trade Center parkway street when came out they were calling us on the radio to tell us to get out. I then reported that the search was negative and then they wouldn’t let anybody near the site pretty much because Seven World Trade Center was going to come down. –Battalion Chief Frank Congiusta
45. "We were asked to go out of that area due to a risk of collapse in 7 WTC. "
–PAPD P.O. Thomas Johnson http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports02.pdf page 10.
46. ..And that was one of the directions from the command post, to make sure we clear the collapse zone from 7 and this is a 600-foot-tall building, so we had to clear a 600-foot radius from that building. –Battalion Chief John Norman http://www.firehouse.com/terrorist/911/magazine/gz/norman.html
47. "The three of us along with 2 firemen searched that area until we were told to leave due to 7 possibly collapsing." –PAPD P.O. Thomas Hering http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports02.pdf p.13.
48. All later attempts to return to the WTC were stopped by the pending, and eventual collapse of Building 7 and the uncontrolled fires. –PAPD P.O. Lawrence Guarneri http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 34
49. A while later, an NYFD supervisor approached and ordered the rescuers away from the area because 7 WTC was in danger of collapse also. –M. DeFilippis, PAPD P.O.
50. At about 1300 hrs between repeating officers fruitless efforts to locate fellow officers and the warning of building number Seven's possible collapse I started to walk uptown on West Street in hope of locating the PAPD Command Center. –Christopher Bergmann, PAPD P.O. http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 52
51. An FDNY supervisor deemed the area we were in unsafe, and assisted people out of the immediate area. –M. McAdams, PAPD P.O. http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 72
52. Reports of gas main leaks, bombs, small arms fire and buildings about to collapse forced us to again relocate further north on West Street. –Daniel A. Carbonaro, PAPD Lieutenant http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 76
[The next three quotes are similar...from written reports by officers in the same command]
53. Due to fire and instability of buildings at the WTC site we were directed to the MCC gym.
– PAPD P.O. Thomas Mancini, http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 86
54. Due to fire and instability at the WTC site we were redirected to the MCC gym.
56. Several attempts were made to assist the trapped, but we were kept out due to the uncontrolled fires and other building collapsing around us. –PAPD P.O. Patrick Versage http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 95
57. Returned to the site on 2-3 occasions...in an effort to help with evacuation but was stopped due to the imminent collapse of 7 WTC. –PAPD LT. William Oorbeek http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports03.pdf page 97
58. Unfortunately we could not do much more because of fear that other buildings surrounding the Trade Center were going to come down. –PAPD P.O. John McClain http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports04.pdf page 33
59. For the remainder of the day , we made trips to the scene to assist in the search. Due to confusion and the threat of damaged buildings falling we were forced to retreat each time. We were on West & Vesey when # 7 collapsed. –PAPD Sgt. Stone http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports04.pdf page 60
60. So we were doing searches, stretching lines, we were doing everything that we could possibly do. We were kind of overwhelmed at the task at hand. Like I said we operated for about three and half hours and then we went to take breather, and as we moved out of the area we weren’t permitted back in the area by that time by a number of Chiefs that were in charge. –FDNY Lieutenant Brendan Whelan
61. Once they got us back together and organized somewhat, they sent us back down to Vesey, where we stood and waited for Seven World Trade Center to come down. –Firefighter Frank Sweeney http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110113.PDF
62. But they weren’t really getting [sic] guys get too deep into it because of the possible pending collapse of Seven World Trade. ...We were staged there a good part of the afternoon until Seven finally did collapse. –Firefighter David Moriarty http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110228.PDF
63. …they told us to evacuate the area for tower number Seven, building Seven, when they knew that was coming down… –Firefighter Dominick Muschello http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110249.PDF
64. …Captain Verraile from 24 Engine said, “Hey, let’s just back everything off here because this building is coming down.” –Firefighter Howie Scott http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110365.PDF
65. Then they said that the 47 story hotel building—I think it’s number Seven—was about to come down. ...We were around for the rest of the afternoon. At about 5:30 that did come down. –Firefighter Edward Mecner http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110391.PDF
66. They were saying building Seven was going to collapse, so we regrouped and went back to our rig. We waited for building Seven to come down. –Firefighter James Wallace http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110409.PDF
67. At 5:20, No. 7 finally falls. They've been waiting for it to go so they can move the firemen and search-and-rescue teams in. With the thunderous collapse, firemen bolt up from where they've been camped, on the south side of the Embassy Suites. Some have been sitting on plush hotel furniture carted into the street, eating food from the Mexican restaurant next door. There's a stampede over pickaxes and oxygen tanks. They head out toward the crushed fire trucks. "They're looking for their brothers," says an ambulance driver. http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/sept11/features/5183/index.html
Waiting for 7 to Fall
Part III An in-depth look at conspiracist claims about WTC 7
This section comprises excerpts from my Loose Change Viewer Guide, an update of which is a work in progress. I’ve deleted most of the first responder quotes, which we’ve seen above, but there may be some other duplication of information here.
NIST’s final report on WTC 7 is due out in early 2007. Why hasn’t this report been completed? From the NIST FAQ:
When NIST initiated the WTC investigation, it made a decision not to hire new staff to support the investigation. After the June 2004 progress report on the WTC investigation was issued, the NIST investigation team stopped working on WTC 7 and was assigned full-time through the fall of 2005 to complete the investigation of the WTC towers. With the release and dissemination of the report on the WTC towers in October 2005, the investigation of the WTC 7 collapse resumed. Considerable progress has been made since that time, including the review of nearly 80 boxes of new documents related to WTC 7, the development of detailed technical approaches for modeling and analyzing various collapse hypotheses, and the selection of a contractor to assist NIST staff in carrying out the analyses. It is anticipated that a draft report will be released by early 2007.
The current NIST working collapse hypothesis for WTC 7 is described in the June 2004 Progress Report on the Federal Building and Fire Safety Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster (Volume 1, page 17, as well as Appendix L), as follows:
An initial local failure occurred at the lower floors (below floor 13) of the building due to fire and/or debris-induced structural damage of a critical column (the initiating event) which supported a large-span floor bay with an area of about 2,000 square feet
Vertical progression of the initial local failure occurred up to the east penthouse, and as the large floor bays became unable to redistribute the loads, it brought down the interior structure below the east penthouse; and
Triggered by damage due to the vertical failure, horizontal progression of the failure across the lower floors (in the region of floors 5 and 7 that were much thicker and more heavily reinforced than the rest of the floors) resulted in a disproportionate collapse of the entire structure.
This hypothesis may be supported or modified, or new hypotheses may be developed, through the course of the continuing investigation. NIST also is considering whether hypothetical blast events could have played a role in initiating the collapse. While NIST has found no evidence of a blast or controlled demolition event, NIST would like to determine the magnitude of hypothetical blast scenarios that could have led to the structural failure of one or more critical elements.
Announcement of NIST’s Award of a contract to ARA for failure analysis work on WTC 7: http://tinyurl.com/emnw4