Some Observations from the Firefighters of Engine 7

These excerpts are taken from the film "9/11" by the Naudet brothers, who had been making a documentary about Engine 7 for several months before 9/11 and accompanied them to the scene after the first crash.  The documentary is well worth watching for the astonishing human drama that it chronicles, and is also a rich primary source of documentation of the events of that morning - including what for a long time was the only footage of the first plane crash.

"The building collapsed to dust"

Joe Casaliggi of Engine 7 describes with obvious puzzlement his experience in several days of rescue efforts helping dig through the wreckage of the towers, only to discover that the contents - including office furniture, computers and telephone equipment - had been almost completely reduced to dust.


"You have two 110-story office buildings: you don't find a chair, you don't find a telephone, a computer... the biggest piece of a telephone I found was half a keypad, and it was this big (holds up thumb and forefinger).  The buildings collapsed to dust."  

A similar observation was made by Larry Klein, the producer of the NOVA documentary Why the Towers Fell, in this excerpt from a Producer's Letter that is found on the DVD:

"There was not a discernable piece of furniture anywhere.   No computers or books or anything that would identify this massive wreckage field as having once been several million square feet of office space.  There was only steel of various lengths and thicknesses twisted into bizarre, pretzel-like shapes and an interlacing gray-brown matter enveloping everything.  I didn’t need anyone to tell me that that gray-brown matter was the contents and insides of the World Trade Center vaporized by the collapse."


" if they were planning to take down a building."

"Floor by floor, it started popping out"

Back in the firehouse on the afternoon of 9/11, firefighters describe their close encounter with the collapse of one of the towers, watching a row of explosions race down the building "as if they had detonated it," and running for their lives as the cloud chased them. 

Transcript (lines indicate different speakers):

 ---What did we do?  We made it outside, we made it about a block... 

---We made it at least two blocks and we started running. 

---(makes explosion sounds and chopping hand motion) 

---Floor by floor it started popping out... 

---It was as if they had detonated - as if they were planning to take down a building, boom boom boom boom boom...

 ---...all the way down.  I was watching it and running.

 ---We ran up West Street...

 ---And then you just saw this cloud of shit chasing you down.

 ---What'd you do?

 ---You couldn't outrun it...

 ---What'd you do?

  ---I jumped behind a Battalion Car, I hid under the car, I was waiting to die...



"...something had happened right there, in the lobby."

Blast damage in WTC-1 lobby immediately after the first plane crash

"A guy from the Port Authority told him the damage was somewhere above the 78th floor, but all you had to do was look around, it was obvious something had happened right there, in the lobby."  And that "something" sure looks like damage from high explosives: shattered glass and broken stone wall panels over a wide area, with fine dry light-gray dust covering the entire scene.  There was none of the soot or oily residue that burning jet fuel would have left behind, and a fuel-air explosion lacks the "brisance" needed to shatter glass and stone. 

More on evidence of other explosions accompanying the plane crashes


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