Explosions Occurred In Each Tower Almost Simultaneously With Each Jet Impact
Editors note: I may split this into pages about WTC1 and WTC2 separately, but for now.... much of the material about the elevators below is referring to WTC1. This page is undergoing heavy editing, I'm only about 1/2 of the way through the firefighter reports from which most of this material is copied. I would like to give the page a more accurate title as well.
"On that awful day, Debbie made the decision to visit the Credit Union which was in Trade Center. According to the accounts I have heard, Debbie was in the lobby waiting for an elevator when AA Flight 11 hit on 93. The jet fuel from the plane poured down the elevator shafts. Owing to the way the elevators are laid out, I don't understand how the fuel got into the elevator that she was waiting for. There are / (were) "Sky Lobbies" on 44 and on 78. So to go above those floors, you took an express elevator to the appropriate sky lobby and then transferred to a local elevator. The elevator machinery was located on the floors above the sky lobbies; only a very few shafts continued all the way up. Anyway, apparently she was in the lobby, the elevator shaftway doors opened and a fireball hit her with full force. She survived and was taken to a hospital with 90% burns. After lingering for about 50 days she died." -Al Masetti
WTC victim, Jim Gartenberg, core blown out, WABC,09:32, 9/11: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eSVsid7eKE
Phillip Morelli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKSUyAftR4A
Mike Pecoraro had gotten up from bed at 4 a.m. to make his normal 2 hour commute from his Long Island home to the World Trade Center, where he worked as a Stationary Engineer on a roving crew that serviced all of the buildings at the com plex. The 36 year-old father of two stopped and bought breakfast on the way into One World Trade Center and changed into his work clothes. At about 6:45 he went to the mechanical shop in the second subbasement, ate his breakfast and chatted with his co-workers who were also arriving for the normal 8:00 a.m. beginning of their shift. Mike's assignment that day would be to continue constructing a gantry that would be used to pull the heads from the 2,500 ton chillers, located in the 6th sub- basement level of the tower. 49,000 tons of refrigeration equipment were located in the lower level of the tower. The 2,500 ton units were the smallest in use. Donning his hearing protection, respirator, gloves and eye protection, Mike, along with another engineer, began the work day using a large grinder to smooth down the welds on steel they were using for the gantry. Deep underground, in an area surrounded by solid bedrock, the noise made by the grinder reverberated from the walls as sparks flew from the spinning grinding wheel. .... Deep below the tower, Mike Pecoraro was suddenly interrupted in his grinding task by a shake on his shoulder from his co-worker. "Did you see that?" he was asked. Mike told him that he had seen nothing. "You didn't see the lights flicker?", his co-worker asked again. "No," Mike responded, but he knew immediately that if the lights had flickered, it could spell trouble. A power surge or interruption could play havoc with the building's equipment. If all the pumps trip out or pulse meters trip, it could make for a very long day bringing the entire center's equipment back on-line. Mike told his co-worker to call upstairs to their Assistant Chief Engineer and find out if everything was all right. His co-worker made the call and reported back to Mike that he was told that the Assistant Chief did not know what happened but that the whole building seemed to shake and there was a loud explosion. They had been told to stay where they were and "sit tight" until the Assistant Chief got back to them. By this time, however, the room they were working in began to fill with a white smoke. "We smelled kerosene," Mike recalled, "I was thinking maybe a car fire was upstairs", referring to the parking garage located below grade in the tower but above the deep space where they were working. The two decided to ascend the stairs to the C level, to a small machine shop where Vito Deleo and David Williams were supposed to be working. When the two arrived at the C level, they found the machine shop gone. "There was nothing there but rubble, "Mike said. "We're talking about a 50 ton hydraulic press ? gone!" The two began yelling for their co-workers, but there was no answer. They saw a perfect line of smoke streaming through the air. "You could stand here," he said, "and two inches over you couldn't breathe. We couldn't see through the smoke so we started screaming." But there was still no answer. The two made their way to the parking garage, but found that it, too, was gone. "There were no walls, there was rubble on the floor, and you can't see anything" he said. They decided to ascend two more levels to the building's lobby. As they ascended to the B Level, one floor above, they were astonished to see a steel and concrete fire door that weighed about 300 pounds, wrinkled up "like a piece of aluminum foil" and lying on the floor. "They got us again," Mike told his co-worker, referring to the terrorist attack at the center in 1993. Having been through that bombing, Mike recalled seeing similar things happen to the building's structure. He was convinced a bomb had gone off in the building. Mike walked through the open doorway and found two people lying on the floor. One was a female Carpenter and the other an Elevator Operator. They were both badly burned and injured. Realizing he had to get help, Mike ascended to the Lobby Level where he met Arti DelBianco, a member of his work crew. People were now coming down the same stairway from above the lobby and Arti and Mike had to stay where they were to direct people out of the stairway door and into the building's lobby. If they didn't, people descending could walk past the lobby door and unwittingly keep descending into the sublevels of the building. .... Mike and Arti stayed in the stairwell at the first floor of the tower directing people through the doors. People flooded the stairwell and a great amount of water was also streaming steadily down the stairs. Describing the people coming down Mike said: "Some were burnt, some cut, some screaming, some fine; like there was nothing going on". "Literally thousands of people came by us down those stairs," Mike said. At one point, an engineer had to run down the stairs to bring some tenants who had inadvertently passed the first floor, back up to the lobby level. The smoke in the stairwell was constant and at one point, Mike told Arti that he was going to catch a quick breath of fresh air. He walked out into the main lobby of the building, seeing it for the first time. "When I walked out into the lobby, it was incredible," he recalled. "The whole lobby was soot and black, elevator doors were missing. The marble was missing off some of the walls. 20-foot section of marble, 20 by 10 foot sections of marble, gone from the walls". The west windows were all gone. They were missing. These are tremendous windows. They were just gone. Broken glass everywhere, the revolving doors were all broken and their glass was gone. Every sprinkler head was going off. I am thinking to myself, how are these sprinkler heads going off? It takes a lot of heat to set off a sprinkler head. It never dawned on me that there was a giant fireball that came through the air of the lobby. I never knew that until later on. The jet fuel actually came down the elevator shaft, blew off all the (elevator) doors and flames rolled through the lobby. That explained all the burnt people and why everything was sooted in the lobby." Spotting someone from the New York Port Authority, Mike asked him what had happened. He told Mike that a helicopter had struck the building. Mike immediately thought the helicopter must have struck at or near the lobby level. He made his way back to the stairwell and told Arti what he had found. "Arti, I think we better get out of here," Mike recalled telling him. "If something falls on us here, we are done." They decided to try and re-group with the other Engineers and together left the stairwell. There were hundreds of firemen on the scene by then. "Everything was chaotic," he said. "People were running in every direction. People were on the mezzanine. The second floor had a ledge that went all the way around the inside of the building's lobby. It was packed with people that were coming out of all the other stairwells". .... Mike Pecoraro and Arti made their way out of Tower One and went to Tower Two. They encountered a crowd of people standing outside the tower, not knowing what had happened. Apparently, they had witnessed a fireball come through the lobby after the second airplane had struck that tower, but they were entering directly from the subway underground and had as yet, no idea of what was happening. Mike and Arti told them all to leave and go home. They then made their way to 4 World Trade Center where they encountered a guard who initially was refusing to leave her post. "Just go home," Mike told her. "You don't have a job, it's done". Reluctantly, the guard left and walked towards the north side of the complex. Still believing that a helicopter had struck the tower, Mike finally learned the truth when two female police officers informed him of the jetliners. Feeling that they were not doing enough, the two decided to go back to One World Trade Center to see what they could do to help and to take another look in the 4th subbasement for Vito Deleo and David Williams. A search of the subbasements again turned up no one. The building at this point almost seemed empty. A telephone was ringing in one of the shops. Mike answered it and found a tenant on the other end requesting that the heat be turned off in their office. I just shook my head and hung the phone up," he said. He wanted to call his wife and tell her that he was okay, but could not get through on the line. He finally managed to reach his wife's employer and asked her to relay a message to his wife that he was all right. Mike and Arti then decided to make their way to the Pump House which was located away from the buildings at the far end of the complex. The World Trade Center used water from the river for their condenser needs. This water was pumped through a 60 inch main, fed by large pumps located in the Pump House, near the river. Their walk there would take them again through 2 World Trade Center. No sooner had the two reached Tower 2 when Mike stopped and turned to Arti. "I have a bad feeling," he told Arti. " I don't know what's in there, but I know what's back there," he said indicating Tower 1 where they were. The two decided to go back to 1 World Trade Center, cut through the lobby and make their way around the complex using a different, longer route to the Pump House. When they re-entered Tower 1, they saw more people coming down the same stairwell where they had earlier been assisting. "They were more hurt, more burnt, more tired," he said. They helped them exit the building asking each if there was anyone up the stairs that needed assistance. "We'll just run up and we'll grab them and get them out," he told them. But each person reported that there was no one in the stairwell that they had passed. Finally, a Port Authority worker descended the stairwell. They asked him if there was anyone left up in the building. The man said nothing, just shook his head and exited the building. Mike and Arti decided it was time to leave as well. They left the stairwell and re-entered the lobby. As they walked to the exit, they heard a roar and the floor began to shake. "Banging so hard that we fell down on our knees," he said. "I'm looking south, at the building, Arti's looking at me, we locked eyes and he is screaming at the top of his lungs...I can barely hear this guy. He's screaming, "What the f? is that?", and I am screaming back at him, that I think it's another plane". In reality, as the two were kneeling in the lobby of 1 World Trade Center, its sister building, 2 World Trade Center, was crashing down upon them. "The building was just bouncing and bouncing, the floor was bouncing. I figured another plane already hit the building". Mike related. "I'm looking ahead and I see all the windows, either three story tall windows or four story tall windows, 10 feet wide; shatter. All of them broke at the same time. All the glass flew over my head. I'm looking up, on my knees, with my hands on the floor, and I saw all that glass. You're talking glass three inches thick, go right over our heads. I saw that some of the firemen who was standing on the perimeter (mezzanine) was blown right off the top. They just flew over the top. I can't put a number on it, maybe ten. Bunch of firemen were guarding doors there. They got blown off. Don't know where they went. I saw pieces of debris as big as cars go right over my head without stopping. Like a line drive right over my head," he said, raising his hand to indicate an approximate 4 foot level. "I put my head down, put my hands over my head. I still had gloves in my hand. I put the gloves over my head and there was a wind that came through the revolving doors that blew me?100 feet to the far wall, right by the visitor's desk. The floor was covered with sheetrock (powdered) and water so it was like a soup. It was very slippery". "You couldn't see anything now. There was dust in the room. My eyes were covered with dust and debris. I got hit in the back of the head with something so hard I fractured my elbow on the floor. Something stuck in the back of my calf and I just got beat all over the left side of my body. Then the building started bouncing even harder. So hard it was lifting me off the floor, bouncing me on the floor". "I had somebody fall on top of me. That freaked me out. I kicked that person off me because I didn't want them on me. And then it just stopped. It was dead quiet. There was no sound except this hissing sound coming from? I believe it was steam pipes, at the edge of One World Trade Center. There was no people, no sounds, there was just quiet. I was alive!" "I still had my flashlight in my holder, my walkie-talkie was split in half. I couldn't call anybody. I turned the flashlight on, people jumped all over me, that must have been standing right next to me. I don't know who they were. All they wanted was help. How do we get out? I turned the flashlight off and put it back in my holder because it didn't do a damn thing (within the thick dust) and I told them, just follow me. I told them I was an engineer in the building, I think I know where I am, follow me out, we're gonna give it a try. There was pandemonium. Nobody would listen to me. They just left. I don't know where they went or who they were". Mike was having trouble breathing in the thick dust. He cut a piece of cloth from his T-shirt and put it over his face. Arti was nowhere around him. He couldn't hear him and certainly couldn't see him. Mike heard a sound near him in the dust. He crawled towards the sound. The sound was coming from a fireman lying on the floor near him. Some type of alarm was apparently triggered on the fireman's air pack. Mike tried to wake the fireman, but there was no response. He tried to get to the fireman's air pack and mask but could not see through the dust how to remove it or get to the air he so desperately needed. In desperation, Mike grabbed the fireman's coat, relit his flashlight and began dragging the unconscious fireman out of the building. "He was easy to drag," Mike said. "the floor was so slippery". He moved in the direction he thought was out, but he was wrong. If Mike had turned left, he would have easily exited the lobby. But, blinded by the dust and disoriented from the pounding he had received, he turned right and was forced to travel three-quarters of the distance of the building before finally reaching a door. Along the way, another fireman came out of the dust and grabbed at Mike. "Who are you?" he yelled. Mike told him he was an engineer in the building. The fireman replied: "Good; how do we get the hell out of here?" Mike replied: "I'm not really sure. I thought this was the way out and now I'm not sure". More firemen appeared through the dust, they grabbed the unconscious fireman who Mike was dragging and said "let's go!" Slowly moving through the thick cloud, Mike led the fireman through the lobby. "There was piles of stuff on the floor," he said. "I don't know what it was. There were people on the floor we were falling over". Somehow, Mike managed to lead them to the South Entrance of the tower to a door which led to the Marriott Hotel. Debris blocked all of the doors from the building. The men managed to move through broken windows to the outside. "That's when we started to hear people hitting the ground," Mike said. In a state of shock, Mike and the firemen watched as bodies struck the ground in front of them. "They were just bouncing off the ground right in front of us," he said, emotion filling his voice. "I saw people jumping before I came back in to the building," he said. "They were jumping, about one every minute, maybe every two minutes. Now you're talking one every five seconds hitting the ground". "I said this is bullshit. Whatever the hell that was, I lived through that, and now I'm going to get killed by some guy jumping out of the building? You could hear them. You could hear them hitting the ground. It was like nothing you ever heard before. It was a very hollow, soft sound. And you knew exactly what it was. They must have seen the other building come down and just mass exited the building". A fireman grabbed Mike and said, "You know what you're going to do? You're going to start running and you're going to hit the wall in front of the building. One way or another, you're going to keep running!" Mike told the fireman, "all right", and made a break from the building. "I made it about four feet out the front of the building and I fell over somebody that was on the ground," Mike said. Scrambling back to his feet he contin-ued a dash through the dust towards the outside. "When I tell you the stuff (dust) on the street was a foot deep, that's conservative. I'd say over a foot deep. It was like walking through a blizzard of snow". Mike ran north and suddenly found himself out of the dust cloud. He saw fireman and fire trucks lined up the street. Finally, he could breathe. The firemen who had been with him stayed in the building; perhaps to regroup. Mike never found out or saw them again. Mike continued walking north, one block, then another. Eventually he reached a small garden intersection where, sitting on a bench, he found Arti. chiefengineer.org
Joe Shearin, the 36 year-old Assistant Chief Engineer at the World Trade Center, began his day by distributing work orders to his crew. The father of a 2 year-old daughter, Joe loved nothing more than the work he did and the place he worked. His best friend, Vito Deleo, another Stationary Engineer, worked with him. The two were all but inseparable. They worked together almost every day. It was generally accepted by all who worked on the maintenance staff that if they saw one, the other had to be close by. That morning a note had been left for Joe by the Chief Engineer of the midnight to 8 a.m. shift telling him that a tenant on the 38th floor wanted to see him as early as possible. So after distributing the work orders to his staff, he entered one of the tower's elevator cars and headed up into the building. .... On the 38th floor, Joe Shearin exited the elevator and began his walk down the hallway to meet with the tenant who had requested to see him. About 50 feet down the hallway, he heard a loud explosion and was lifted into the air. "I can't even tell you how far I traveled," he recalled. When he landed, people were already coming out of their offices into the hallway. "They were screaming, hollering," he said. "They were asking what they should do and where they should go". Joe directed them down the stairwells and out of the building. What Joe first believed was that an equipment room on the 43rd floor, which had an electrical substation, had blown up. He proceeded up the 5 floors to that level. Upon reaching the 43rd floor, "there were patches of ceiling that was just down on the floor, water pipes were broken, water was gushing like a brook or river that was just running down the corridor of the machine room". He began yelling to see if anyone was in the room and received no reply. He made his way to one of the tower's stairways and began the walk down to the lobby. "When I came down the stairwell (to the lobby level) and I looked toward West Street, I just couldn't believe what I saw," he recalled. "There was glass and people cut, covered in blood". Making his way out of the building, he found debris falling from the top of the building. Still not understanding or knowing what had happened, he made his way back to re-enter the building. As he went around the west wall he saw two people. "They were pretty?I never seen anything like that before," he said, his voice choking from the pain of seeing it again in his memory. "This individual, she was that badly burned, but she was still alive," he managed. .... Joe Shearin had managed to make his way on to West Street where he met an Emergency Medical truck that had just pulled up. He asked the technician if he could help the burned women he had seen and the technician told him to help by carrying equipment into the tower. Joe filled his arms and accompanied the technician into the building and stayed with them, and helped take the woman to the ambulance outside. Upon re-entering the building, Joe started to hear a rumbling sound. "I knew what was happening," he said. "That was Two World Trade Center starting to come down". He entered one of the elevators that serviced the lobby floor and below and rode it down to where the mechanical shop office was located. His plan was to make certain everyone he worked with was out of the building and then exit the building through the parking garage. Entering the mechanical shop office, he found two people inside and yelled for them to get out. He then went to the parking garage and towards the doors that led out to West Street. "I could see people up against the rollup doors, banging on the doors and stuff like that". Seeing his building uniform, they yelled at Joe to help open the door. Joe moved quickly to the door operating mechanism and managed to put it into manual mode. Opening the door, they all fled into the air above as 2 World Trade Center crashed down around them. chiefengineer.org
High above in the management office, on the 88th floor of the tower, John Griffin, Jr., the father of two and the new Director of Operations at the World Trade Center, was also beginning his day. John had been hired by the buildings' owners, Silverstein Company, just two months earlier. The son of an Engineer, John seemed born to the job and by all account was more than capable of shouldering the challenge of running one of the largest buildings in the world. John worked with Charles "Charlie" Magee, the Chief Engineer at the Center. Along with the 35 other employees who made up the management staff of the World Trade Center, they began their day high above the bustling city, managing what was a city within the city. In the Management Office on the 88th floor, the scope of the catastrophe was more evident. John Griffin Jr. and Charlie Magee also thought at first that an electrical substation had blown up. The force of the explosion lifted furnishing into the air. One desk had flown up and landed five feet away. The falling debris and furnishings blocked access to the stairwells. The room began to fill with smoke. John, Charlie and others began to break out windows to get air into the room. They realized they had to escape and managed to clear a way to a stairwell. They made certain that they had all the occupants from the floor together and then began the long descent down the stairwell. On the way down the stairwell, John kept talking to his co-workers, keeping them calm as they made their way down. They began to meet firemen coming up the stairs, so some congestion started within the stairwell. At each level, other building occupants were streaming into the stairwell and the group of 35 from the Management office became separated by the mass of people trying to leave the building. No one ever saw John Griffin Jr. or Charlie Magee after that. If they did make it to the first floor, they would have immediately joined the fire command personnel. They would not have left the building. All that was ever recovered of John Griffin Jr. was one credit card, bearing his name. chiefengineer.org
Seismic Event Times vs Jet Impact Times: http://www.journalof911studies.com/volume/200609/ExplosionInTowerBeforeJetHitByFurlongAndRoss.pdf
@@WE BOTH HEAR THIS RUMBLE, AND I FELT A VIBRATION, WE LOOKED SLIGHTLY TO THE LEFT, ALL OF US, THERES A WHOLE BUNCH OF US RIGHT NEXT TO MY VEHICLE, AND HERE COMES THIS PLANE, A HUGE PLANE.@@ THE LADY NEXT TO ME SAYS OH MY GOD ITS GONNA HIT THE BUILDING. I DIDNT WANT TO GIVE HER FALSE INFORMATION SO I SAID GEE I DONT THINK SO, WELL I HOPE NOT. I MEAN WE'RE LOOKING AT IT SORT OF IN THREE DIMENSIONS, SO IM THINKING ITS GONNA GO BEHIND THE BUILDING. FROM WHERE WE'RE STANDING, ITS GONNA GO RIGHT BEHIND IT, BUT IT WAS TOO BIG AND FAR TOO LOW. AT THAT MOMENT I SAID ITS GONNA HIT, ITS ACTUALLY GONNA HIT. AND IT HIT. nytimes.com
"Which one of you knuckleheads came without an ID?" Kravette recalled asking, just as a tremendous explosion shook the six-story lobby. @@I saw a couple of elevators in free fall; you could hear them whizzing down and as they crashed, there was this huge explosion, like a fireball exploding out of the bank of elevators,"@@ Kravette said. People were engulfed in flames." He escaped across an overpass to the West Side Highway. Three Cantor employees in the lobby suffered severe burns but will survive. His pregnant secretary is missing. -David Kravette, a managing director of Cantor Fitzgerald engr.psu.edu
Q. Did you get any sense that the elevators were running at any time when you got there or at any time was there any talk about --
A. @@The elevator doors were blown off.@@
Q. Blown off?
A. Yeah. You could see they were a disaster. nytimes.com_p23
When we pulled up in front of one, we saw the lobby windows were blown out already. You could walk into the building without the doors, just where the windows were. nytimes.com_p3
I believe we were the first engine hooked up. There was a rig right along the curb there. It was a ladder. It was a tiller, so I don't know, whichever one, maybe 6 or something. I'm not sure. There was a guy laying in front of it, a civilian. @@We also had two civilians blown out to the middle of West Street on the divider there. It's about two feet high with dirt and grass they were sitting up there. I don't think they walked up there. They were just blown up there. They were all women. They were naked. They were burnt up.@@ They were alive, but they were -- maybe they made it; I don't know. The ambulance took them away. The guy down here who was laying down in front of the rig, the ambulance took him away also. nytimes.com_p5
Q. Is there anything else you want to add?
A. I didn't go into the lobby, but @@I could see into the lobby. It seemed like there were people burnt. Guys were saying there were people burnt on the elevator, people burnt in the lobby. I heard them say there was marble blown off the walls.@@ I imagine the concussion came down the elevator shaft or something and blew everything out. nytimes.com_p11
GETTING OFF THE RIG WE WERE INFORMED WE BELIEVE BY THE DEPARTMENT RADIO THAT @@THE ELEVATORS WERE FALLING IN THE SHAFTS AND NOT TO USE HIGH BANK OR MID BANK OF ELEVATORS TO USE ONLY LOW BANK OF ELEVATORS ONLY@@ -LIEUTENANT BROSNAN OF ENGINE 212 http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110328.PDF
We went to the bank of elevators. We pulled a lady out of the bank, one of the banks. We used a rabbit tool. @@Most of the banks were blown off. The doors were charred and dismembered, some of them.@@ -Mike Byrne FDNY Engine 21 nytimes.com
@@We decided to take an elevator up. 13 Truck took us up. I'm assuming it was a low riser. It was one of the only elevators that were clear, and it looked like it was working. 13 took us up to - first they took a couple guys from my company up. Then I went up with another guy, came back down and got us, went up to the 24th floor.@@ The whole company was there. -Mike Byrne FDNY Engine 21 nytimes.com
We took the shortest route, and I think we just went in a window. I think the glass was blown out there. @@I remember getting the impression that the elevators were blown out.@@ -Brian Becker, FDNY Engine 28 nytimes.com_p7
When we got to the staging area inside the lobby, I remember seeing other companies. @@I remember vividly seeing it looked like the core elevators of the building were blown apart as if a giant had punched through tinfoil.@@ -Robert Byrne FDNY Engine 24 nytimes.com
OEM's offices are in Seven World Trade Center, so we were there when the first plane hit. I was on the third floor. I was eating breakfast. @@The electricity went out in the building for about three to four seconds, and then it rerouted and came back on.@@ I knew something major had happened, although I did not feel any vibration or hear any crash from where I was sitting. -Tim Brown, OEM Rescue 3 nytimes.com
Full Resolution: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=CJJUI2CY
Full Resolution: http://xenomorph.s3.amazonaws.com/WCBS_Excerpts_4.avi
I made my way from the South Street Seaport to the corner of Church and Fulton, where I had spotted Fire Patrol 3's rig parked out in front of tower one. Chief Raymond Cowa was standing in front of the rig, and he had said that Captain Keegan had just made his way inside. I grabbed a mask off of the rig. I told the chief I was off duty and that I would be going in. He said, "Watch your back." I began to make my way into the building. I had seen a couple of what I had thought were body parts in front of the building. I didn't pay it much mind. You still had a heavy flow of people leaving the building. I made my way into the building, down an escalator, where I believe I was in the concourse level. I believe that's what it's called. I ran into Sergeant Sheehan and Patrolman Keith Roma. They were escorting people up the escalator. They were standing by it looked like a turnstile or a revolving door; I'm not sure. @@There were sprinkler heads going off on the concourse level. John said something bad really happened. He said the overheads popped. There was a lot of heat here before.@@ There's nothing happening now. He's going to stand fast. I told him that the chief was looking for him and he wanted to coordinate all the fire patrol units, get them all together, and begin some type of operation coinciding with the Fire Department. I proceeded into the building. I had told John, which is Sergeant Sheehan, that I was going to go into the lobby area where the elevator banks were to take a quick look, because I saw that there were no firemen on the lower level. @@I wasn't sure -- knowing that the elevators had dropped, seeing the condition of the hallways, the bent doors, the fascias of the hallways were knocked into the hallways. I started searching the elevators, when a woman said there was another woman trapped in an elevator. I had gone over to the elevator with my tool and began to pop the door open. The elevator was cantilevered, so it was very hard. But there was an occupant inside.@@ I went back to where I saw Sergeant Sheehan and Keith Roma. There were two firemen, two truckers. One was an officer. I believe they were from 10 Truck. I can't be sure. I told them what I had. They came with their tools. All three of us tried to pop the door with the Halligans. A member from the building maintenance crew came up with a Port-A-Power. He said, "I've got this. I can pop the door. I've got it." So with that we had all left.
Q. When you went into the lower level of One World Trade Center, the sprinkler heads were going off.
A. Right, they were heads off.
Q. There was no fire; there was no heat. Their heads were off from a pressure surge like from the pressure created by the falling of building two or what do you think?
A. @@What I believe set those heads off is when those elevators had dropped -- @@
Q. @@Why did the elevators drop?@@
A. @@They were sheered.@@
Q. @@They were sheered. We didn't cover that. People told me, yeah, I think the elevators dropped and the doors were blown out and all that.@@
Q. @@The elevators were sheered?@@
A. @@They were sheered.@@
Q. @@What did the elevator doors look like?@@
A. @@They were buckled, cantilevered. The one woman was -- how she was standing up, I didn't know.@@
Q. She was standing up? She was alive?
A. She was standing up and alive, as I popped it with my tool. I had a converted officers tool. I made my own little. It's very good as far as leverage and so on and so forth. I got the door open maybe six to eight inches. That's when the guys from -- once again, I believe they were 10 Truck. He had put his officer's tool, my tool and the Halligan. We had both Halligans. But the door was so warped that we really couldn't get the strength to pop it open. But when the guy pulled up with the Port-A-Power, he was very confident. He was like, "Don't worry. I've got her." It seemed almost like he had done this before, like he was here working. Once again, I had come off duty. So this maintenance man had enough muster to get that tool and begin to work on the doors right away. It just led me to believe that he had things under control. So myself and the lieutenant from whatever company that was were confident he could do it, and we had moved on.
Q. I wonder where he is now.
A. Exactly. He was ten feet from Sergeant Sheehan and Keith Roma.
Q. You're the first guy that told me that they saw D'Atri. I know D'Atri. Nobody else told me that they saw him.
A. When you speak to the others from Squad, they should tell you, because I had spoken to them immediately after that. Once again, I'm doing this 23 years. You always think, yeah, if you give a location, you have a good idea where they can be. This changed all the rules. This changed all the rules. @@This went from a structure to a wafer in seconds, in seconds. I couldn't believe the speed of that tower coming down.@@ I heard the rumble, I looked up, debris was already 50 feet from the ground, on its way down. You looked and you ran. You just didn't --
Q. You reacted or you didn't survive.
A. You just moved. You just ran. You knew you were dead. I knew I was dead. As I thought of my children, life flashing before your eyes, true. You see it, you see it, you see it. I saw my boys, I saw --
Q. That's about it?
CHIEF MALKIN: I thank Sergeant Canham for this interview. The time is now 1633 hours, and this concludes the interview.
-FDNY Sergeant James Canham of Fire Patrol 3 nytimes.com
I proceeded into One World Trade Center into the front lobby. Just making it into the door, I ran into 3 Truck, members of 3 Truck, which told us that @@there were numerous people trapped in elevator cars and that they needed forcible entry saws.@@ -Craig Carlsen FDNY Ladder 8 nytimes.com
We were actually one of the first companies on the scene. We pulled up right in front of One World Trade Center, right into the cul-de-sac right in front of the canopy. @@So we got off the rig. I noticed there were several people sitting in the grass in front of the building burned head to toe, gray, just staring at us. The captain ordered us to grab four rollups. We went into the building. We went into the lobby. The lobby actually looked like the plane hit the lobby. From what I understand, I was told afterwards, that a fireball shot down the elevator shaft and blew out all the windows in the lobby and blew out the elevator doors. We searched for an elevator to see if there was one operating. There was none.@@ The captain said we were going to walk up the stairs. -Joseph Cassaliggi FDNY Engine 7 nytimes.com
We walked into Tower 1, the north tower, and hung out in the lobby waiting for instructions on what to do. At that point, it was a lot of chaos. You were hearing jumpers. You were hearing different things going on. You saw different companies. We weren't told what to do really. So then we got our instructions, and we followed the captain by an elevator, one of the elevator banks. Somebody told us @@there was somebody trapped in the elevator, so we opened up the doors. We had the rabbit tools, so we just pried it open a little bit, and then we pulled it open ourselves, and there was a lady in there, and we got her out.@@ -William Casey FDNY Engine 21 nytimes.com
We went to the lobby of 1 World Trade, and when we got in there, @@we saw a lot of damage in the lobby around the elevator banks.@@ -Marcel Claes, FDNY Firefighter Engine 24
Definitely bring the second bottle because we saw smoke starting to issue from lower floors, you know, that lighter smoke. So we were wondering where that was coming from and @@I even heard some radio transmissions about fire in the elevator shafts from the jet fuel.@@ -Captain Charles Clarke FDNY Engine 211 nytimes.com
Our first thought, normal high-rise operation is you want to get people up to the floors, the fire floors. That's normally done on elevators and we had a problem. @@There were no elevators in operation. What made it more of a problem is that all those elevators were shut down and there were people in them.@@ So we were actually -- once I had staff that could operate the panel, they could speak to each individual elevator, ask how many people are in the elevator, what floor they were on, and if there's anyone injured, and I was passing that information on to the incident commander. -Capitan John Kevin Culley FDNY OEM nytimes.com
WE WENT IN THROUGH THE REVOLVING DOORS THERE WAS A MINI LOBBY @@THERE WAS LIKE BROWN HAZE SMOKE IN THE LOBBY A LOT OF THE MARBLE SLABS WERE FALLING OFF THE WALL CRACKED THERE WERE TWO PEOPLE IN LIKE THE LITTLE SECTION OF THIS LOBBY ONE GUY WAS BURNT PRETTY MUCH TO CRISP AND HIS JACKET WAS THE ONLY THING LEFT ON HIM PUT THAT OUT WITH A CAN AND THEN THERE WAS A LADY OFF TO THE RIGHT OF US THAT WAS ALIVE BUT SHE WAS SCREAMING THAT SHE COULDNT BREATHE SO I HIT HER WITH THE CAN AND COOLED HER DOWN@@
Q. WHERE DID THESE PEOPLE COME FROM?
A. I DONT KNOW IF THEY WERE IN THE ELEVATOR OR WHAT NOT BUT THEY WERE THE ONLY TWO PEOPLE I SAW IN THE LOBBY AND THEY WERE RIGHT IN THE ENTRANCE WAY LIKE I SAID SHE WAS STILL SMOKING WHEN WE GOT IN THERE THE OTHER GUY WAS DEAD AND SHE WAS JUST SCREAMING THAT SHE COULDNT BREATHE. AFTER I USED GUESS ABOUT A HALF A CAN ON HER @@WE WENT THROUGH THE LOBBY ALL THE ELEVATOR BANKS WERE KIND OF BLOWN OUT AT PROBABLY 70 DEGREE ANGLES 60 DEGREE ANGLES AND THERE IS ALL RUBBLE AND SPOT FIRES IN THE LOBBY@@
Q. @@WHERE DID THAT COME FROM?@@
A. @@I THINK THEY SAID THAT THE FUEL WENT ALL THE WAY DOWN THE ELEVATOR SHAFT AND WHEN IT FINALLY HIT ROCK BOTTOM IT BLEW OUT ALL THE ELEVATORS@@
Q. IS THAT IT
A. THATS WHAT I HAVE BEEN HEARING I DONT KNOW I DONT THINK ANYBODY REALLY KNOWS IT WAS PRETTY MUCH RUBBLE IN THE WHOLE LOBBY WALKING THROUGH -JAMES CURRAN FDNY LADDER COMPANY 8 nytimes.com
We proceeded to go into the lobby of tower one. We got in there. The glass was down in the front. There was a gentleman -- you saw people that were jumping from the building. You had to look up and make sure you didn't get hit by any jumpers or anything. We saw a couple of people that were burnt on the outside of the building. There was a gentleman that was burnt inside when we went in. -Firefighter Craig Dunne FDNY Engine 1 nytimes.com
Engine 1 and 15, we started proceeding up the B stairwell, passing other people coming down; no firemen, just a lot of people. There was no smoke condition or anything like that going up.
We stopped at 12. Actually there was emergency service that was with us also. I'm not sure what truck it was. There were actually two emergency services trucks, four guys, and some Port Authority police also. We stopped at 12 and took a little break, let some of the people come down. That was maybe a minute or two. Then we proceeded to 22, where the Port Authority command post was, I believe was. That's where we were heading. I think we had -- the gentleman that was in charge of the Port Authority police was with us. So we stopped at 22. Lieutenant
Desperito and I believe one other member of Engine 1 tried to make their way down the hallway on the 22nd floor off the B stairwell to the command post. We were there three or four minutes. The elevator shafts were blown out, so they had to make their way around -- the fire came down the elevator shafts. -Craig Dunne FDNY Firefighter Sixth Grade Engine 1 [[nytimes.com|http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110490.PDF
They told us there's always secondary devices. When we were coming to this area, I said to my partner, we'll never feel it. The underground will blow up from us and we'll be dead. Because nobody's counting on a secondary device, and whatever bonehead had us lined up around the World Trade Center, after hindsight, 20/20, that ain't too bright either because there's usually a secondary device. The Olympics showed that in Atlanta. Most bombings show that. There's always something for the people and then, when everybody comes rushing in, there's a little something extra. But we didn't expect that the building was going to be the something extra. -Richard L. Erdey, EMTD FDNY Battalion 52 nytims.com
Before we got in, all the elevators were crashed down in the lobby, and we were going to the stairwell. See all the elevators were crashed down, big slabs of marble on the floor, all the ceiling tiles of the dropped ceiling was falling down, wires hanging. You see wires and stuff hanging inside the elevator shafts, because the doors were blown right off the elevators. There was one body inside the lobby. Looked like his legs were chopped off. I don't know where he came from, but he had already had a triage tag on him. It was a civilian. I don't know where he came
from, how he died. Looked like his clothes were a little burnt up on him, but his legs were chopped off. I don't know where he came from, but he had a triage tag, so somebody must have tagged him before we got there. -Firefighter Peter Fallucca FDNY Engine 16 nytimes.com
Still in the north tower. A lot of the marble in the lobby was falling off the walls, big slabs of marble were falling down. From the impact, I guess. The lobby didn't look too good. The integrity
of the elevators - I started to think about the elevators. They had either blown out, cut off or could possibly have the cars coming down. The lobby was becoming an untenable place, especially if we wanted to continue operations. -Tom Fitzpatrick FDNY Deputy Commissioner for Administration nytimes.com
Q. What would you say the chances of getting to the 85th Floor, the 86th Floor, with these roll-ups, the bunker gear, a mask, an extra bottle, without the elevators? What are our chances?
A. Looking back now, practically zero. If the building -- and I couldn't -- I don't think you could find a person there that day that thought the building was going to come down.
A. You probably heard that.
A. You probably won't hear anybody say that they really thought they weren't going to go in because it was going to come down. That was it was the furthest thought from their mind. At one point, I figured we'll get as close as we can get. When we reach the point of exhaustion, maybe other companies coming in would be able to come up with only their bunker gear and pick up the roll-ups and continue, pick up the roll-ups and maybe even our masks, and be able to continue, or if we got close enough to fight the fire, they would be behind us, but it was going to be -- as it went on, it was going to be more of just a rescue evacuation and not really fighting fire.
Q. @@When you were in the lobby, did you notice the elevators, what the condition of the elevators was? Was there any fire in the elevator shafts? Did you notice the elevator to any extent?@@
A. @@I didn't see fire in the elevator shafts. There was a good deal of soot, like a white soot all through the lobby. A couple of the doors of the elevators were buckled, so there was some kind of explosion or fire in there. There were -- in the vestibule between the outer doors and the inner doors, there were two civilian bodies burned.@@ There was nothing we could do for them at that point, you know. I assumed something came down and just burned them. They might have been in the elevator or near the elevator and stumbled as far as they got. I heard reports that there was one elevator working that some guys used. There were no elevators by the time we got there. All the elevators were out. It was one of the first things that was established. Elevators were not working. -Captain James Fody FDNY Engine Company No. 6 nytimes.com
I had a radio. I had control radio. So we rushed in to the lobby and pretty much pretty quick the guy, Gregg Atlas, who didn't make it out, from 10 Engine, came over to us and said to us, 5 Engine, you're going up to the fire. Just put water on the fire. Somewhere along the line I heard the elevator drop. He said, oh, shit, and just right after he said that, you heard a huge explosion, and I looked to my right and I could see the reflection, just the whole Financial Center, a reflection of flames just turn orange, basically, because it's all glass, you know, turn orange and you saw it. -Firefighter Gerard Gorman FDNY Engine Company No. 5 nytimes.com
So we start marching up and about the 4th floor, 5th floor, one burn victim came down. I think she said the 60th something floor. I don't know. I think I heard that. I'm not sure. I don't think
that's possible, but I can't be sure.
A. Something floor.
Q. Sixtieth floor possibly?
A. It could have been possibly with the elevator. I don't know. -Firefighter Gerard Gorman FDNY Engine Company No. 5 nytimes.com
WE RAN INTO THE BUILDING IT WAS ME PAUL BEYER BILL JOHNSTON TOM HOLOHAN AND WE HAD A COVERING OFFICER LIEUTENANT OHAGAN WE ENTERED IN THROUGH THE FRONT DOORS OF THE LOBBY THE LOBBY WAS SCREWED ALL THE WINDOWS WERE ALREADY BROKEN MARBLE WALLS THAT SURROUNDED THE ELEVATOR SHAFT THEY WERE CRACKED AND BROKEN
WE HEADED FOR THE B STAIRCASE IT WAS PRETTY MUCH IN THE CENTER OF THE CORE WE HAD TO GO THROUGH THESE TURNSTILES I REMEMBER THERE WAS A LOT OF RUBBLE ON THE FLOOR THERE THERE WAS ELEVATOR DOORS AJAR THERE WERE ELEVATOR DOORS MISSING I COULD SEE AN ELEVATOR CAR TWISTED IN THE SHAFT I REMEMBER I LOOKED UP AT THE CEILING BECAUSE THOUGHT MAYBE THE CEILING GOT CHARRED BECAUSE THERE WAS BUNCH OF RUBBLE ON THE FLOOR IT WAS ABOUT THREE FEET HIGH IN THE MIDDLE THE CEILING WASNT CHARRED SO HAD THOUGHT THE FLOOR BLEW UP I WAS TELLING GUYS AFTERWARDS THE FLOOR
MUST HAVE BLOWN UP MAYBE THERE WAS A BOMB DOWNSTAIRS OR SOMETHING BUT I CAME TO LEARN THAT THAT WAS BODIES WE HAD TO CLIMB OVER AND AROUND THIS PILE
Q. A PILE OF BODIES IN THE LOBBY?
A. I DIDNT RECOGNIZE IT AS BODIES I DONT KNOW IF MY MIND DIDNT SEE IT
Q. NEAR THE ELEVATORS?
A. IT LOOKED LIKE RUBBLE TO ME
A. RIGHT OUTSIDE THE ELEVATORS IN THE CORE WE HAD TO CLIMB UP AND AROUND IT IT WAS LIKE THREE FEET HIGH IN THE MIDDLE TO ENTER THE STAIRCASE
WE ENTERED THE B STAIRCASE
I BASICALLY DESCRIBED WHERE WE WERE IN B THE STAIRCASE IT WAS PRETTY MUCH IN THE CENTER OF THE CORE IT WAS ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ELEVATORS BUT IT WAS PRETTY MUCH IN THE CORE AND WE WERE WORKING OUR WAY DOWN YOU KNOW WHEN WE WERE ON 31 WE STARTED GOING UP WE TRIED TO MAKE THE 44TH FLOOR THERE WAS A REPORT OF AN ELEVATOR ON THE 44TH FLOOR THAT WENT INTO THE 60S SO I GAVE HIM ALL THE INFORMATION WHERE WE WERE.
Q. THATS ABOUT IT LET ME ASK YOU SOMETHING
Q. WHEN YOU WENT IN THE LOBBY AND YOU TALKED ABOUT THE ELEVATOR DOORS THAT ALL SOME WERE BLOWN WHAT DID THEY LOOK LIKE?
A. THERE WERE ELEVATOR DOORS THAT WERE MISSING
A. THERE WERE ELEVATOR DOORS THAT WERE AJAR
A. I COULD SEE AN ELEVATOR CAR TWISTED IN THE SHAFT
Q. WAS THERE FIRE IN THE ELEVATOR SHAFT? WAS THERE SMOKE? ANY EVIDENCE OF FIRE DROPPING DOWN TO THAT LEVEL?
A. THAT RUBBLE WAS BURNT RUBBLE IVE COME TO LEARN FROM GUYS BEHIND ME THEY SAID IT WAS BURNT BODIES LIKE I SAID MY FIRST INSTINCT WAS TO LOOK UP I THOUGHT THE CEILING MIGHT HAVE COME DOWN BUT THE CEILING WAS INTACT THEN I WAS THINKING WELL MAYBE THE FLOOR HAD BLOWN UP
FROM THE BOTTOM I GUESS MY MIND WAS PROCESSING PROCESSING WHAT THIS RUBBLE COULD BE IT COULDNT BE WHAT IT WAS. -Firefighter GRADE WILLIAM GREEN FDNY ENGINE 6 nytimes.com
We went past the elevator banks. You could see that they were all blown out
A couple people, civilians, indicated to me that there was an elevator that was working at this time. But I had already gotten transmissions over the air that some elevators had already crashed down to the first floor. I told them no one is getting in an elevator. -Lieutenant Gregg Hansson FDNY Engine 24 nytimes.com
I believe at that point after some preliminary instructions were made, I noticed that people were going upstairs. They were shutting down elevators and just trying to move people expeditiously out of the building. -Samuel Harris EMT nytimes.com
When we entered the lobby, there was a lot of damage in the lobby, broken glass, tiles dislodged and laying on the floor, you know, the decorative panels all around the walls. But it was rather calm in the lobby. Chief Pfeifer was in control. We responded in. We tried to gain control of the building systems, meaning the communications systems, the elevators. None of the building systems were working. The elevators were all out of service. The communication lines were not working.
There were numerous distress calls coming in from the dispatcher and also coming in directly to the lobby of people trapped in elevators, people burned in different areas of the building -Chief Peter Hayden FDNY [[nytimes.com|http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110139.PDF
The tour commander, who was Joseph Callan arrived on the scene. I spoke with him very briefly. He came in, and I kept him apprised of what happened thus far. He asked me at some point in time if we were thinking of collapse. I said yeah, we have to, a plane just struck the building. We also said we're pretty sure this was a terrorist attack. Everybody recognized early on that this was an intentional act.
Q. This is after the second hit?
A. Yes, this is after, oh, yeah. So the potential and reality of -- or possibility of a collapse was discussed early on.
There were numerous discussions in the lobby. The chief of safety came in. He discussed his concern about the collapse. His advice to us was to let the building just burn, you know, get the people down and get out. We said that's exactly what we're planning to do. -Chief Peter Hayden FDNY [[nytimes.com|http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110139.PDF
We discussed with Chief Downey the operations, and that continued for a while. We were making a concerted effort to get the elevators down and answering all the distress calls. We were working with the engineers. We were working the intercom in the lobby between the elevators, trying to get an idea what floors they were on. The engineers told us we have people on this floor, that floor, 66th floor, 71st floor, stuck in the elevators. We answered as many of the distress calls as we could. We concentrated on trying to get some type of hand line hardware communications. We attempted the repeater system. The repeater system was not in service. The repeater system wasn't working. So we were at a distinct disadvantage because we had none of the building systems to work with. -Chief Peter Hayden FDNY [[nytimes.com|http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/9110139.PDF
WE DID SEE BODIES THAT GOT PULLED OUT OF THE ELEVATORS BECAUSE ALL THE ELEVATORS FELL THEN KENNY AND I JUST THOUGHT WELL LETS JUST WALK IN THE MAIN LOBBY THERE AND MAYBE TRY AND PRY OPEN AND SEE IF ANYBODY IS LEFT IN THE ELEVATOR ITSELF WE DID A QUICK WALK AROUND IN THAT SECTION BUT THERE WERE ONLY A COUPLE THAT WERE CLOSED WE COULD WEDGE IT OPEN LITTLE AND TAKE A LOOK THERE WERE NO OTHER BODIES THERE WAS ABOUT THREE OR FOUR BODIES THAT WERE PULLED FROM THE ELEVATOR AND THEY WERE COVERED UP ALREADY. -Firefighter GEORGE KOZLOWSKI FDNY LADDER 20 nytimes.com
Arriving at the World Trade towers, we went to the command post. We talked to Chief Pfeifer. Lieutenant Desperito talked to him in the lobby.
Q. Of the north tower?
A. Of the north tower.
Q. How did you get in there?
A. We walked through the main doors. I'm not too familiar with that area down there. At that time there was a lot of glass laying around. Mostly we were watching people diving off the top
of the building than we were watching where we were walking in. Again, we went to the command post with Andy Desperito. They gave him the fire warden's phone to use when we got to the 11th floor, to the 22nd floor, which they told us there was a command post with the Port Authority on the 22nd floor. We made it up to the 22nd floor. We stood there for a couple minutes. I believe Andy Desperito talked to the battalion through the fire warden phones. We did locate somebody at the end of the hall, but everything was blown out. The ceiling had fallen. The drop ceiling had blown to the floor. Some of the walls were blown out. So Andy and I had crawled down the hallway to get to the Port Authority command post. -Firefighter Kirk Long FDNY Engine 1 nytimes.com
Q. Okay, Tim. You mentioned the 22nd floor. Do you recall what amount of time it took you to get from the lobby to the 22nd floor?
A. If you could tell me what time that building collapsed.
Q. The other tower collapsed approximately like 5 after 10.
A. So we were on the scene for an hour at that point. It probably took us 45 minutes to get up there, I would think. I would think at about a quarter after 9 we started up. So if that happened a little after 10, I would think 45 minutes.
Q. 45 minutes? Do you recall what stairway designation that you took up?
A. The stairway probably close to West Street on that side of the building, next to one of the elevator banks. They also told us to stay away from the elevator banks, that they were coming down. -Firefighter Tim Marmion FDNY Engine 16 nytimes.com
YOU HEARD THE DISPATCHER IT SEEMED LIKE MANHATTAN DISPATCHER UNLESS HE HAD US ON CITYWIDE TALKING TO THE UNITS THAT WERE AT THE SCENE YOU
HEARD DIFFERENT THINGS GOING ON THE DISPATCHER ANNOUNCED THAT ELEVATORS WERE DROPPING I REMEMBER THEM SAYING AT FIRST TO STAY OUT OF ONE OF THE ELEVATORS THAT SERVICED THE 44TH FLOOR THEN LESS THAN MINUTE LATER THEY SAID NOT TO USE ANY ELEVATORS THIS IS AS WERE DRIVING DOWN THE BRUCKNER THINGS WE WERE HEARING ON THE RADIO HE SAID TO STAY OUT OF ALL ELEVATORS BECAUSE THE ELEVATORS WERE DROPPING WE KNEW THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING CRAZY GOING ON -Firefighter Vincent Massa nytimes.com
We made it into the lobby of 1 World Trade Center. I believe we came off the courtyard and the windows were blown out nearest the West Street side. -Assistant Commissioner Thomas McDonald FDNY nytimes.com
Rodriguez said on September 11, 2001 he reported late to work which was unusual for him. He said he was in the B1 sublevel ABC office speaking to Anthony Saltamachia when the plane struck the North Tower (WTC1). He immediately thought the explosion was caused by a generator. Shortly after the first explosion a second explosion rocked the building and caused the office's false ceiling to collapse. Following these explosions Felipe David, who was severely burned, ran into the office. Rodruguez said there was a third explosion and he believed then the explosions were caused by an earthquake.
Rodriguez said he went down to the B1 level to ensure everyone was out of the building. Water from the sprinkler system was flowing into the sublevels. He found two men trapped in an elevator stuck between the B2 and B3 levels. The men in the elevator were hip deep in water. Rodriguez said he found a nearby ladder and was able to help the men to evacuate.
9 11 World Trade Center basement explosion witness Phillip Morelli: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x9t1ck_9-11-world-trade-center-basement-ex_news
WTC basement explosion witness Phillip Morelli: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c3gyprsa9Y
Explosions before planes hit WTC 911 9/11: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3uFvOiTNz4&feature=related
And see Explosions Up From Street
Video: 9/11: Eyewitnesses Describe WTC Basement Explosions