Transcripts 281-300



So I guess it was after about ten minutes, 15 minutes after 13 got their assignment, I remember looking around and I heard this sound and I looked up and it was the south tower crumbling, coming down. We all just took off, turned around and ran straight to the back of the loading dock underneath 2 World Financial Center.

I remember we were looking for a stairwell so we could get this guy up, and I remember saying how did this happen, me and this other fireman with this 400-pound guy. We couldn't budge. We tried getting him up the stairs. It was like we got him up three stairs, let alone three floors. So I remember looking around for the stairwell and all of a sudden the building started rumbling and the lights went out for about ten seconds. I turned my light on and I'm just thinking, I'm hoping this building isn't collapsing. I thought it was the tower coming down across the highway, but I didn't know for sure. For about ten seconds the building rumbled and then it stopped, and I felt very relieved.

Within a couple minutes we got some more help and we got him up, I think, 43, some guys. The north tower did come down. That's what made that building rumble like that.

Q. Did you see anything looking at the building that indicated --
A. No. I just remember seeing just the flames, and when I heard the noise, I was already looking away. But I remember talking to some other guys. They remembered seeing the floors being blown out, I guess, when each floor collapsed on each other. I didn't see that. I heard the sound. I looked up. I saw the building collapsing and just like being pulverized, the smoke, and I probably looked at it for about a second and I just took off, if a second. Once I saw that, I was like, whoa, get out of here.



So one block north of Chambers, I stopped and turned around and proceeded to count off the companies that came in. I guess I was doing that for about a good five or six minutes, about five minutes or so, and then I heard a rumbling. As I turned around, I saw people and some firefighters coming toward me and I looked up and I could actually see Tower No. 1 coming down.

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.



On our way to the building, we had just passed Vesey Street, we were near the pedestrian bridge when you heard the rumble and the roar of the building and at which point we all looked up. Nobody really moved for a second. The tower began to collapse and we all ran back up the West Side Highway.



Me and the other guys are still in the lobby and it was weird, because the lights went out before the rumbling started and one of the guys reminded me, just after the lights went out, I made a little remark like “Uh-oh.”

So we turned left and we were going on Vesey towards – I guess towards the river where all the ambulances were lined up. That’s the first point where we saw that the building actually came down. You know, where we made the left onto Vesey I looked over my shoulder and to that point we didn’t know that the actual building had come down. Because on the way in there was a Police Officer underneath the Customs building and he told us to come inside because they were tracking another inbound. Which he meant was another airplane. So when the building came down, we just thought – we didn’t know the building came down. We thought it was another airplane that hit. That was the first time we actually saw that the tower came down.

At that time we heard an explosion. We looked up and the building was coming down right on top of us, so we ran up West Street.

Oh, when we came out of the building and we were walking across West Street and we first got out of the building, we’re walking across the street and all you heard was like bombs going off above your head. You couldn’t see it. It was just cloudy. And we found out later it was the military jets. That was an eerie sound, you couldn’t see it and all you heard was like a “boom” and it just kept going. We couldn’t see 50 feet above our head because of the dust. So we didn’t know if it was bombs going off or whatever, but we didn’t want to stay there.



There was a transmission to go north. I remember a disturbance by the water. I saw a police officer come out to the street and start directing people away from the water, and it turned out there was a gas leak or something, but at the time we didn't know if it was a bomb or -- so we just kept getting orders to go north, go north, go north.

I was again with Mike Hazel. I stuck with him. He's one of the senior members. I stuck with him most of the day, and we were walking back towards where our captain was, because after the recall he had come in. This is later on in the day, and we heard a rumble that Building 7 was coming down, so we didn't know what to expect, so we wound up doing -- actually a broken window in the door of the theatre. There were two police officers actually walking next to us so I told them, I says, "Duck in there," and we both ducked in there, too, and it really didn't, you know, reach us.

I just remember after that one came down, there was just an order to move north, and so we moved north. People were trying to wash up again in the hydrants, and then there was the whole commotion by the waterfront, gas leak, a bomb, whatever, you know. We didn't know what was going on.


He held us there approximately within three minutes. As we are looking up at the building, what I saw was, it looked like the building was blowing out on all four sides. We actually heard the pops. Didn't realize it was the falling -- you know, you heard the pops of the building. You thought it was just blowing out. We turned -- I turned to take a look where to go, turned around. Several companies, myself and half of my company, ran into a parking garage at 2 – I believe it's 2 World Financial Center. We ran into the parking garage. As I ran into the parking garage, I turned around. I saw the whole side -- the side of the building falling into the street and the cloud of dust coming towards us.

As we worked our way back to Vesey towards West, we ran into several people that we knew. We tried to get people together. We were going back towards West and Vesey somewhere where we heard people screaming, "The second building is coming down. The second building is coming down." Within ten seconds, the second building started to drop.



After a while, and I don't know how long it was, I was distracted by a large explosion from the south tower and it seemed like fire was shooting out a couple of hundred feet in each direction, then all of a sudden the top of the tower started coming down in a pancake. I remember my jaw dropping and just staring at it and Richard Banaciski, one of the firemen that was there, yelled "Run" and I turned and I started running into the parking garage of the Financial Center.
Q. Bill, just one question. The fire that you saw, where was the fire? Like up at the upper levels where it started collapsing?
A. It appeared somewhere below that. Maybe twenty floors below the impact area of the plane. I saw it as fire and when I looked at it on television afterwards, it doesn't appear to show the fire. It shows a rush of smoke coming out below the area of the plane impact. The reason why I think the cameras didn't get that image is because they were a far distance away and maybe I saw the bottom side where the plane was and the smoke was up above it.

So we kind of just all were walking around dazed and I ran into a Battalion Chief. I don't know who he was. I said to him, I said, "Chief, they're evacuating the other building; right?" He said, "No."
Q. You're talking about the north tower now; right?
A. Before the north tower fell. He said, "No." I said, "Why not? They blew up the other one." I thought they blew it up with a bomb. I said, "If they blew up the one, you know they're gonna blow up the other one." He said, "No, they're not." I said, "Well, you gotta tell them to evacuate it, because it's gonna fall down and you gotta get the guys out."

So eventually this other chief came back and said, "They are evacuating this tower." I said, "Oh, that's great." And sometime after that I watched from the, I guess, by the Winter Garden area, I watched the north tower fall. It was expected so it wasn't as traumatic as the first one to me.



I turned my face back towards the buildings as -- looking up at the south tower. It seemed like the one floor exploded, but in retrospect I'm thinking that was the compressive force of the building coming down that blew it out. I remember yelling, "Run."

I started up the C stairway to retrieve the rest of the members to give a hand with this guy when I heard a deep rumbling, and I felt vibrations. I thought it was the financial center coming down. I was in the stairwell. I ducked behind the stairs. The door was propelled with quite a bit of force, and debris went down the hallway, went flying down the hallway. Then within 15 seconds at the most, it subsided.



Meanwhile we were standing there with about five companies and we were just waiting for our assignment and then there was an explosion in the south tower, which according to this map, this exposure just blew out in flames. A lot of guys left at that point. I kept watching. Floor after floor after floor. One floor under another after another and when it hit about the fifth floor, I figured it was a bomb, because it looked like a synchronized deliberate kind of thing. I was there in '93.



At this point after we made a thorough search, we located together via the stairwell. At that point, unbeknownst to us, the south tower fell. We didn’t know that the south tower fell. I didn’t have a radio because I had the can. But I heard there was a collapse in the north tower between the 68th and 70th floor. When we heard the evacuation, we started our way down. At this point we were still unaware that the other tower went down. We were in the stairwell. We all regrouped at the stairwell before the tower went down. When it went down, like everybody else says, it was like an earthquake. The building went six feet to the right, six feet to the left.

So up until the point where the north tower went down, we didn’t –
Q. You didn’t notice that tower came down at all?
A. We didn’t know at all.
Q. You didn’t feel that or hear that?
A. Oh, no, we felt it. We were in the north tower, and we were in the stairwell. When that tower went down, our tower went six feet to the right, six feet to the left, and we felt the debris falling, but it felt like an earthquake. I’ve never been in a big collapse. I thought –
Q. You didn’t know the tower came down?
A. No. what I heard over the radio was that it was a collapse from the 68th through 70th floors. I thought that’s what was – that much of a rumble and everything else, you know.



After the collapse of number Two World Trade Center, which I actually thought was a bomb that went off because the north tower was blocking my view, debris and everything started falling, people were running.

The north tower came down, and I got hit with some debris. I remember getting banged up to the divider by the rig which was in the street. I made my way underneath the scaffolding again and just tried to outlast the collapse, which I thought was just another bomb going off.



We put the masks on. We started walking north to just about the second footbridge, which would be 6 World Trade, and all of a sudden we heard the explosion and the building started to come down and I ran up --
Q. Which tower?
A. 2 World Trade Center started to collapse. We ran and I dove under a rig and I lost sight of Craig Monahan. I don't know where he went. I dove under a rig. I'm not sure what the number was, but I dove under a rig. It came down.



There was an explosion at the top of the Trade Center and a piece of Trade Center flew across the West Side Highway and hit the Financial Center, and Arthur went to hook up with another chauffeur to the Financial Center.

About a couple minutes after George came back to me is when the south tower from our perspective exploded from about midway up the building.

At that point a debate began to rage because the perception was that the building looked like it had been taken out with charges. We had really no concept of the damage on the east side of 2 World Trade Center at that point, and at that point many people had felt that possibly explosives had taken out 2 World Trade, and officers were gathering companies together and the officers were debating whether or not to go immediately back in or to see what was going to happen with 1 World Trade at that point. The debate ended pretty quickly because 1 World Trade came down.



By the time we arrived down the end of West Street, around Chambers or so, one tower had collapsed. I believe it was --
Q. The south tower?
A. -- the south tower. We gave a 1084. We got up to -- we were on
West Street between Vesey and Murray, where the rig was positioned. We took all our gear. Everybody that was on the rig -- there was five men on the rig and two on the back step at that time. We manned all our gear. We went down. We started walking down West Street towards the World Trade Center. When we got to between Vesey and the pedestrian overpass, the north pedestrian overpass, we heard a fantastic rumble. Everybody looked up, and as we observed it, the second tower started to collapse.



I got my guys and started walking across West Street. I guess we got about three-quarters of the way across when we were deciding which way to go into the south tower. That's when I looked up, and the tower started coming down, which at the time I said I thought it was a secondary device. I had warned the guys about secondary devices on the way down and to be careful of that. So when I originally saw it -- and then I realized the building was coming down.



We got into tower one, made the turn into tower one started heading I guess either towards the elevators or the escalator. That's when we heard a rumbling. I dove for a wall and it got pitch-black. I just basically rode it out until after the sound and -- how would you describe that one? After the (inaudible) stopped. I don't know what the heck happened then, how best to describe it. I got up. I thought I was by myself, and I then just started calling out for the rest of the company.

Q. Before the second tower came down, did you notice anything, a sign that it might be coming down or anything like that or did you hear anybody give any warning on the radios or anything like that?A. No, I was just trying to find out -- no, there was no -- it was still dusty out there, and you really couldn't see. I didn't even realize that two came down. I thought another bomb or a plane hit the building. That's what I thought it was.