The National Institute of Standards and Technology insists it was the first and only steel skyscraper in the world to collapse as a result of fire.
According to later reports, the alarm system in WTC 7 is placed on “TEST” status for a period due to last eight hours. This ordinarily happens during maintenance or other testing, and any alarms received from the building are generally ignored. [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 6/2004, PP. 28 ]
New York City’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is responsible for coordinating the city’s response to major incidents, including terrorist attacks. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 283-284] Its offices are in Building 7 of the World Trade Center. Today is reportedly “going to be a busy day at the OEM,” as staff members have come to work early to prepare for Tripod, a major biological-terrorism training exercise scheduled for September 12 (see September 12, 2001). Their building shakes when the North Tower is hit at 8:46 a.m. OEM Commissioner John Odermatt initially believes a freak accident has occurred involving a ground-to-air missile, but soon after, OEM is informed that a plane hit the North Tower. Immediately, OEM staff members begin to activate their emergency command center, located on the 23rd floor of WTC 7 (see June 8, 1999). [JENKINS AND EDWARDS-WINSLOW, 9/2003, PP. 15] They call agencies such as the New York fire and police departments, and the Department of Health, and direct them to send their designated representatives to the OEM. They also call the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and request at least five federal Urban Search and Rescue Teams. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 293] According to the 9/11 Commission, OEM’s command center will be evacuated at 9:30 a.m. due to reports of further unaccounted for planes (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001). By that time, none of the outside agency liaisons will have arrived. [9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. 305] Other accounts indicate the command center may be evacuated earlier, possibly even before the second tower is hit (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (Shortly Before 9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001).
A group of police officers tries to enter World Trade Center Building 7 in order to get out of the WTC plaza, but they find the door is locked and the building is on fire. The seven officers are members of New York Police Department’s Emergency Service Unit (ESU). They were about 60 yards north of the South Tower when it collapsed, at 9:59 a.m. (see 9:59 a.m. September 11, 2001). When the dust began to clear, they made their way to the WTC plaza. But as they then tried to get out of the plaza, they found that every corner they ran to was blocked.
Officers Find the Door to WTC 7 Is Locked – The ESU officers now notice the bridge that leads from the plaza to WTC 7, and wonder if they can get out of the plaza by entering WTC 7 and then making their way down to the street below. [TACTICAL EDGE, 6/2002 ; APPEL, 2009, PP. 99-100] WTC 7, a 47-story office building, is located to the north of the Twin Towers. It is linked to the main WTC complex by a glass-enclosed pedestrian bridge at the third-floor level. [FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY, 5/1/2002, PP. 5-2; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 2] The officers walk across the bridge, but when they reach the door that leads into WTC 7 they find it is locked. “Why anyone would lock a door under these circumstances was anybody’s guess,” author Anthea Appel will later comment.
Officers Find WTC 7 Is on Fire – One officer, Steve Lanoce, decides to try to break the door. He takes out his handgun and fires a shot at the bottom glass pane of the door. The glass, however, turns out to be bullet-proof and cracks but does not break. Furthermore, Lanoce’s shot sets off the burglar alarm in WTC 7. Fortunately, Lanoce’s colleagues are able to kick in the cracked glass and create an opening large enough to crawl through. They find, though, that the building on the other side of the door is on fire and they have to jump back to avoid the flames. [TACTICAL EDGE, 6/2002 ; APPEL, 2009, PP. 99-100]
WTC 7 Suffered Only Minor Damage When the South Tower Collapsed – The cause of the fire in WTC 7 is unclear. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which will investigate the collapse of WTC 7 that occurs later today (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001), will state that the building suffered only minor damage when the South Tower collapsed. “A few windows on lower floors of the south face of WTC 7 were broken, and dust and small debris were deposited in the third-floor lobby,” it will describe. However, it will add, “None of the large pieces of debris from [the South Tower] hit WTC 7 because of the large distance between the two buildings and there was no evidence of structural damage to WTC 7.” [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 16] The ESU officers then notice a stream of people making their way out of the North Tower. They therefore abandon their plan to get out of the WTC complex and instead go to help evacuate the civilians from the tower. [TACTICAL EDGE, 6/2002 ; APPEL, 2009, PP. 101]
A security officer for one of the businesses in Building 7 of the World Trade Center (WTC 7) goes up WTC 7 and subsequently becomes trapped on its seventh floor. [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 9/2005, PP. 109-110; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 298-299 ] Although most people were evacuated from the building around the time the South Tower was hit, if not earlier (see (9:03 a.m.) September 11, 2001), after the South Tower collapses at 9:59 a.m. the security officer heads up to a floor in the 40s in WTC 7, reportedly to check that all his personnel have left. (The name of the company he works for is unstated.) He is initially accompanied by a police officer, but at around the 10th floor this officer has difficulty breathing, and so goes back down and exits the building. When the North Tower collapses at 10:28 a.m., WTC 7 shakes and the stairwell goes dark. The security officer, who has reached the 30th floor by this time, heads back down the stairs. When he reaches the 23rd floor, where the headquarters of New York’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is located, he opens the door to check for any members of staff that might still be there, but finds the area filled with smoke. (The OEM was evacuated at about 9:30 a.m., if not earlier (see (Soon After 8:46 a.m.-9:35 a.m.) September 11, 2001 and (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001).) He then continues down to the seventh floor, where he has to stop because he is unable to see or breathe. He is able to break a window, and calls for help. [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 298-299 ] At around 12:10 to 12:15 p.m., firefighters will enter the building and rescue the security officer, escorting him down the stairs and out of the building. They will also rescue two men who are trapped on the eighth floor (see 12:10 p.m.-12:15 p.m. September 11, 2001). [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 6/2004 ; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 9/2005, PP. 110]
According to numerous rescue and recovery workers, the area around World Trade Center Building 7 is evacuated at this time. [KANSAS CITY STAR, 3/28/2004] For example:
Emergency medical technician Joseph Fortis says, “They pulled us all back at the time, almost about an hour before it, because they were sure—they knew it was going to come down, but they weren’t sure.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 11/9/2001]
Firefighter Edward Kennedy says, “I remember [Chief Visconti] screaming about 7, No. 7, that they wanted everybody away from 7 because 7 was definitely going to collapse.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 1/17/2002]
Firefighter Vincent Massa: “They were concerned about seven coming down, and they kept changing us, establishing a collapse zone and backing us up.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/4/2001]
Firefighter Tiernach Cassidy: “[B]uilding seven was in eminent collapse. They blew the horns. They said everyone clear the area until we got that last civilian out.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/30/2001]
Battalion Fire Chief John Norman: “I was detailed to make sure the collapse zone for 7 WTC had been set up and was being maintained.” [FIRE ENGINEERING, 10/2002]
Several New York Fire Department chief officers, who have surveyed Building 7, have apparently determined it is in danger of collapsing. [FIRE ENGINEERING, 9/2002]For example, Fire Chief Daniel Nigro explains their decision-making process, saying: “A number of fire officers and companies assessed the damage to the building. The appraisals indicated that the building’s integrity was in serious doubt. I issued the orders to pull back the firefighters and define the collapse zone.” [FIRE ENGINEERING, 9/2002] Fire Chief Frank Fellini says, “We were concerned that the fires on several floors and the missing steel would result in the building collapsing.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 12/3/2001] And Fire Captain Ray Goldbach says, “[W]e made a decision to take all of our units out of 7 World Trade Center because there was a potential for collapse.” [CITY OF NEW YORK, 10/24/2001]However, some firefighters seem surprised at this decision. When Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen is making his way through hundreds of firefighters who are being held away from the WTC site, he hears complaints like, “It could take days for that building to come down,” and, “Why don’t they let us in there?” [ESSEN, 2002, PP. 45] When Deputy Fire Chief Nick Visconti is instructing firefighters to evacuate the area, one comment he receives is, “[O]h, that building is never coming down, that didn’t get hit by a plane, why isn’t somebody in there putting the fire out?” [FIREHOUSE MAGAZINE, 9/9/2002]
Mark Jacobson, a reporter for New York Magazine, later recounts an encounter he has about this time. Walking through the ruins of the World Trade Center complex, he sits down next to a weary and dust covered firefighter. The firefighter points to WTC Building 7, perhaps 400 yards away, and says, “That building is coming down.” Jacobson asks when and the firefighter responds, “Tonight. Maybe tomorrow morning.” Jacobson watches as the building collapses about five minutes later. [NEW YORK MAGAZINE, 3/20/2006]
After the fire department informs it that Building 7 of the World Trade Center could collapse, New York power company Con Edison shuts off power to this building. [9/11 COMMISSION, 2/26/2004 ] Con Edison has a major electrical substation on the first and second floors of WTC 7. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002; NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 5] Its representatives who had been in WTC 7 did not think that the building would come down. But, at 4:15 p.m., Con Edison emergency field manager Fred Simms speaks to the New York Fire Department and then tells his company’s headquarters that the fire department thinks WTC 7 will collapse. The fire department then asks Con Edison to shut down the power to WTC 7, which it does. [CITY OF NEW YORK, 6/13/2002; 9/11 COMMISSION, 2/26/2004 ] Electric power to Con Edison’s lower Manhattan substation at WTC 7 is shut off at 4:33 p.m. [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. 303 ] Also around this time, people are evacuated from the area around WTC 7, due to concerns that the building could collapse (see (4:30 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [KANSAS CITY STAR, 3/28/2004] WTC 7, a 47-story tower located just to the north of the main WTC complex, will come down at 5:20 p.m. (see (5:20 p.m.) September 11, 2001). [NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY, 11/2008, PP. XXXV] The Con Edison electrical substation below it will be destroyed in this collapse. [NEW YORK TIMES, 9/11/2002]
The report, by a group of top engineers from the University of Alaska, insists the flames could not have brought the tower down.
Dr J Leroy Hulsey revealed the team’s boss findings at the Justice In Focus Symposium in New York.
He said: “It is our preliminary conclusions based upon our work to date that fire did not produce the failure at this particular building.”
The findings will add fuel to conspiracy theories which suggest the twin towers and WTC 7 were blown up.
Some have even blamed the US Government which they say wanted to provide the grounds for military strikes in the Middle East.