FIREFIGHTER JOSEPH GALASSO
As we got in there, like I said, the lieutenant walked away for a second to find a stairwell, told us to wait. At that point, not even a few seconds later, the lights went out and you heard -- it sounded like a waterfall almost. You just saw people running. The lights went out, and it got dark. You just saw parts of buildings coming down.
I guess when the first building came down I actually thought it was another plane hit at that time. I didn't know the building came down.
At that point -- again, not even – I would say about 40 seconds, we get to the middle of the street with this individual, and you heard like a loud "rrrrr." Everything started shaking. We thought it was another plane.
FIREFIGHTER JAMES MURPHY
Then we saw the second one come up. It looked like it was coming up the
We waited there right on the corner of the mall, right on the corner where the two sections met, the two mall sections. We were on the north corner of that. That's when 30 seconds after the lieutenant left you could hear the noise. I was looking down towards
We couldn't have walked more than like 15 steps when the second tower came down. Everybody just ran for their lives. Really that's exactly what happened. All of a sudden there was blue out and then it just got a shade darker and the noise and then it got darker and darker and darker. The noise was getting louder, and there was stuff falling.
I remember just walking up that block. That first block, all the cars were on fire. They weren't totally engulfed in flames, but there was fire on them and their tires were exploding. I just remember how quiet it was walking up that block. Everything was quiet except for the explosions of tires and stuff like that.
LIEUTENANT WAYNE MERA
So we turned down
I was in the back room, it must be the northeast corner, and some guys must have been on the southeast corner, when all of a sudden the building shook. I've never been in an earthquake, but it couldn't have been any worse than that, any major earthquake. It just shook the building like I just couldn't believe. I mean, it was really bad. We stopped a second, looked at each other, what's going on here? We come out. Another guy comes from another room, let's go, let's go in the stairwell. We start going to the stairwell.
When the building shook, to go back, we didn't realize what happened. We didn't realize it was the south tower. I know myself and I've talked to the guys that were with me that day, we all thought the same thing, it was the upper floors of our building. That's what we thought. We thought the upper floors of our building had collapsed and we didn't know what was going on. So on the way down, I remember, I know myself, I kept thinking that the rest of it was going to be coming down. But it ended up being the south tower.
We got down to the lobby and it opened up where you could walk at a normal pace. Nobody was running out, but you were walking at a pretty good clip at that point. You could see a couple of the elevators had crashed to the bottom and there were doors blown open and stuff. It was very strange because there was debris everywhere, not the big, heavy, steel debris, but there was dust, coated with dust everywhere.
My back was towards the building. The guys sat down on the rig, you can open up your coats, take your mask off your shoulder, breathe a sigh of relief, okay, let's catch our breath, see what's going on before we do anything. Paul Hyland looks up and goes here it comes. Run. My back was towards the building. I didn't check back and look. A lot of the other guys were already looking that way, so they saw everything break apart.
We're in front of Stuyvesant catching our breath, and I'm not sure how much later, it wasn't that much longer, a cop comes running up and tells everybody from the high school to go down the block, that they got a bomb scare or a gas leak, the high school is ready to blow up. So now we're trying to catch our breath here, so we ended up running up another five or six blocks not knowing what's going on. We're going up West Street and I'm looking over to the right and I saw all these buildings, the rig was to the left, and I'm thinking are these secondary devices? Are they planted to explode every 20 minutes now? Are they going to chase us all the way up the west side?
FIREFIGHTER PAUL BECK
We were just rummaging around and soon we heard this noise. It sounded like a train. I thought it was another jet coming overhead. I thought it was a fighter jet now patrolling or another plane coming.
FIREFIGHTER CHRISTOPHER PATRICK MURRAY
We went over the
But when it start coming down, you knew exactly what it was. A couple of guys thought it was another plane because we heard reports of another plane coming in, and then you heard this noise and a few guys said it's another plane. But for whatever reason, I knew exactly what it was. It sounded like a freight train going right over your head. It was an unbelievable experience. Then, when the second one went, obviously, you heard the same noise, so you knew what that was.
LIEUTENANT NEIL BROSNAN
At that time, getting of the rig, we were informed, we believe by the department radio that the elevators were falling in the shafts and not use high bank or mid bank of elevators. To use only low bank of elevators only.
At this time, I caught the explosion, coming from my left side. I seen the ceiling coming down and we all got low and backed down a dead end hallway.
We were blown down the hallway. My left eye was blinded by debris from the explosion and at this time, when I was getting blown down, I thought this was the third plane ESU was talking about. I had that in my mind, that now the third plane had hit the building and that’s what the event was. At first we were waiting for the heat to come and then we realised it was breathable and we crawled out and you couldn’t even talk. You had so much debris in your mouth.
Q. This building was still okay. What happened was 2 collapsed and caused all of this debris and dust everything else. Is that it?
A. Actually, the explosion came in through those doors and came up behind the way I had come in. and I realized that, that the explosion came from the way I just left.
Q. Did you know what the explosion was?
A. No. We never heard, through this whole event, through the collapse of other than – well, 1 World Trade Center I happened to be there. I seen that collapse. We never knew 2 World Trade Center collapsed on channel 3. My men didn’t know it, I didn’t know it. In fact, I didn’t know for a week later the sequence of events until I talked to a chief in the 8th battalion and he told me I was wrong. I thought the hotel collapsed first.
At this point, my eyes are now I can see. I squint and I notice that the hotel is in a V-shaped collapse with only the two ends of the hotel – the whole center of the hotel has disappeared into a V-shaped collapse down to almost street level. I realized there was ten to fifteen companies that I had only passed three to five minutes prior to this explosion. That’s about the time I was in 1, was no more than three to five minutes when this occurred, which we found out later was the collapse of 2, but we did not know at this time.
But there were electrical fires starting on my way out. I could see – I could actually see the electrical arc and it was like the white lights above us. So I was actually using that for reference. Ceiling, floor. That’s how I got reference back on my feet. I was just watching the ceiling and it was arcing.
Q. In the lobby of tower 1, did you notice any elevators, anything unusual about the elevators or the elevator doors? Was there fire in the elevator shaft? Were they blown in, the doors? Anything like that?
A. No. they had asked me that, where the explosion came from that I encountered. The explosion came right from the way I had entered. It came right from in back of me.
FIREFIGHTER STEVE PICCERILL
All of a sudden, I turned away, and I heard a tremendous explosion, and I turned around. That was the second plane hitting the trade center, so that’s when they told us to respond.
I was walking back up to the front of the tunnel, and I heard like a – to me, it sounded like thunder, and I just saw stuff coming down, and I heard someone. He said, “Run for your life. The tower is falling.” I looked up, and I just saw this thing coming, and we all just ran, ran into the tunnel.
So Z went back to the rig. He got his stuff and went on to get a flashlight. He was walking from the rig, and he seen – he heard the rumble. He seen guys running. He looked up, and the building was coming down.
EMT DWIGHT SCOTT
After we met up again, we went back to another command post. Then they said there was a secondary explosion or they weren't sure if it was a bomb or a gas main. But we all started running again. We went north. After that we regrouped and set up another triage station farther from the site.
PARAMEDIC ROBERT RUIZ
The next thing you know, you hear a loud thundering noise. It sounded like a jet, a big rumble. I start looking around and I'm like, what is that? The next thing I know, I see the cop just take off. I'm like, where's he going? Then I see the things on the floor, like
By now the sound is just getting louder and louder and louder. I said, oh, man, this building is going to fall on me right now. What do I do? I got up, and I just -- this is like a split second. I said I can't keep running straight up, because you have this building right here on
Q. So you had a feeling the building was coming down right away?
Q. Is that what you first thought?
A. Yeah. The sound, it's just loud. At first it's (sound) and then you feel everything around you -- not around you but the floor. You feel the floor trembling and shaking. You look at the floor, the dirt, the sand and everything on the floor shifting from side to side. I'm like, oh, man. Then the cop takes off. He runs. Then I hit the corner, I turn the corner, a few feet I fall. By this time the sound is so, so, so loud, I think oh, my God. I never looked back, because I figured if I looked back that was going to be it, I'd freeze or be hit with something. I said, look, I don't want to waste any time. Whatever it is I'm going to do, I've got to do it quickly.
All you hear is all this rumbling. The rumbling, the rumbling, the rumbling, that's all you heard. The rumbling and the smoke.
Like things weren't bad enough already, the car that's parked right on that corner catches on fire. I don't mean a little fire, the entire thing. Don't ask me how. The entire car caught on fire. You would think maybe just a motor part or just the engine part. But this entire car just goes up in fire. I'm like, oh, my God, what's happening? I didn't get squashed and I'm going to suffocate here and now I'm going to burn. The smoke was real hot. The smoke was real, real hot. I thought about, oh, man, if I keep breathing the smoke in, my larynx is going to swell and I'm going to suffocate like that, and all attached to crazy things I'm thinking. Forget about it. Now it was the car. Then I can't stand it anymore because it's getting real, real, real hot. I'm like, oh, man, I've got to get out of here. This thing is cooking me. Now thanks to the car fire -- because it was so big, I could see now.
Even before we found that, we found the people. As soon as we found the people, we hear it again, the rumbling. Right, I forgot all about that. We hear the rumbling. I was like, oh, my God, Joe, the rest of the building is falling down. We all run, and we all try to get as much as we can inside this building where we are now. We hide in a closet or something. The walls are all full of glass. So we're thinking that this glass is going to break. All you see is the thing moving. Later on we found out that was the second building that was falling down. We thought and I thought that the first one is still -- the rest of it is falling down.
EMT KEVIN McLEON
We pulled our equipment out and started to stage in front of the building. We started to distribute equipment for triage. We had one or two patients who had a piece of the building that fell on his shoulder. We started to bring him to ambulance when all of a sudden we heard a large explosion. That explosion turned out to be subsequently the second plane hitting.
EMT JODY BELL
I figure about a half hour later after we arrived we had a good 20 to 30 people on that corner we were trying to treat. We were just trying to treat them. We then hear this explosion. We hear this explosion, and our first reaction is the plane was lodged in the building and it exploded or parts of it were still in the building and that exploded. Then people were screaming that another plane hit. I'm like, no way, there's no way. From where I was, I couldn't see the other tower. I saw the one tower. I couldn't see the other tower. They said another plane hit. So I'm like, there's no way. More people were starting to say it. Then it came over the radio. That's when I knew it was deliberate. I knew it was deliberate. At first I was thinking maybe it was an accident, human error of the worst kind. But the second plane, I knew it was deliberate. I knew this was an attack.
I'm not sure how much time passed after that. I lost track of time. You start to hear this rumble. You hear this rumble. Everything is shaking. Now I'm like, what the hell could that be. I'm thinking we're going to get bombed. This is an air raid. You hear this thunder, this rumbling. Then you see the building start to come down. Everybody's like, "Run for your lives! The building is coming down!"
That's when over the radio you hear, "Stand fast. The north tower is leaning." I'm like, how is the north tower leaning? See, once I heard the second plane hit, I was thinking the second plane hit one building, both planes hit that one building, and that building had kind of come straight down. So all I saw was smoke coming at me and everything else, and I just ran. I still got bombarded with all of that stuff. When I came back this time, not only was it snowing but I could see the tower, and the tower was starting to break off. It was kind of looking like it was going to tip, and there was a piece of the building coming down right on top of me and Mike. We were holding each other's hands and we were like, "Whoa, look at that." We sat there like for a split second and we just watched it in amazement that this building was coming down, the second building was coming down. The building was hitting other buildings. It was hitting buildings over here. It was crazy. Then we made another U turn, and everything started rumbling again. Another tidal wave blacked out the whole scene. This time it was worse. We were just running. This time we ran all the way back as far as we could to the railing. I was damn near ready to jump in the river.
Oh, wait, another major thing. When that second building came down, as we were running, you hear this thunder in the air. This was a scary part. We hear thunder. That's when I'm like, oh, no, now they're going to bomb us. You hear this thunder. You know it's in the air, but you don't see anything. You just hear this loud sound. It's just getting bigger and bigger. Then you see our fighters in the air, F-14s, whatever they were, F-18s. Everybody just got a new sense of hope. We were all just cheering, like "
FIREFIGHTER ROBERT HUMPHREY
At that point between actually – probably before the third engine company came is when the second plane hit, and I was in the middle of the street at the time, and it came -- the plane came from the south, so I saw very little of the plane. I only saw a flash going on the side of the building where the opening is, and then the explosion. That's when I took cover inside the rig, because everything was -- all the metal and stuff was coming down on the rig and in the streets, you know, stuff from the plane, and metal and whatever, and glass, and et cetera.
FIREFIGHTER KEVIN QUINN
Then approximately I guess maybe two hours before number 7 came down, we went into Ground Zero and helped dig around and was there when they located Chief Feehan and one of the Chiefs pulled us all out because they said 7 was going to come down.