FIREFIGHTER FRANK VASKIS
We got downstairs. We got on the rig. Everybody had their bunker gear on and waited for our assignment. We were down there maybe five minutes before it came over that they wanted us to go to
While I was underneath checking out the situation, I heard a large crash, and one of the cops who was directing traffic said another plane hit. I heard more screaming, an initial rush of people by me, and the cops were saying that there was a third plane incoming.
So I walked over underneath the overpass, and there was it seemed like ribbons of aluminum or whatever, the facade of the building, was trickling down.
I walked past it to the north overpass, and I cross back over
When I got to
FIREFIGHTER HOWIE SCOTT
We proceeded south down West Street under the north walkway and saw to our right in front of the financial building there was a command post over there that included Chief Ganci, Chief Downey, Mayor Giuliani, Bill Feehan and Tom Von Essen, the Commissioner. They were in conference about something.
As we proceeded back down
We get to just about the north walkway, about to go underneath, and the second one came down. Again, a quick retreat back up. This one was, as far as I was concerned, the big one. The first one you had a chance to make a move, I felt, especially us. You may not have made the right move, but you had a chance, because it seemed like it pancaked down and that delayed the whole process, where the second one just seemed like it just opened up all over the place.
I rode over the
We started up onto the pile when we just heard a horrific rumbling coming, and we knew the north tower was coming down. I then proceeded to run under the south walkway and dove into an ambulance.
Chief Brown directed me at that time to just track what units were where, and, you know, who was who, and a lot of voluntary and private ambulances on the scene. Just try to get the number and names of the crews, and at that time I was doing that, and then we started to hear a roar, and I looked back. Everybody was running, so I just kind of started running with them, and the next thing I know, I just remember jumping on a staircase and putting my hands over my helmet, and, you know praying to God, and then it all went black.
Then we heard two planes coming overhead. We weren't sure, you know, if they were friendly or just loud jet engines, so we started making a little run to the west side. We noticed it was a F-16.
FIRE PATROLMAN PAUL CURRAN
We turned onto Broadway, and we worked our way down West Side Highway. We reached luckily around
With that, all a sudden the tower went completely -- a horrendous noise, a very, very tremendous explosion, and a very heavy wind came through the tower. The wind almost knocked you down. We were on the north side of the elevator banks, and they kind of broke up that wind.
Q. Everybody tells me all these vehicles were on fire. What do you attribute all these vehicles being on fire to?
A. I believe it must have been from the debris falling and the heat just started hitting the cars and starting cars on fire. There were an awful lot of cars burning, an awful lot. It had to be radiated heat or just stuff falling on cars and setting them on fire. There were numerous cars burning, numerous.
SERGEANT JAMES CANHAM
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.
As I hung up the phone and started making my way back down the hall is when the rumble started. I thought it was our tower starting to collapse, being the volume of fire I saw when I had gotten there. I ran down the hallway. As I ran down the hallway, I pass two other police officers. They were also, I believe, making searches on that floor. They must have been with the team. We passed each other in flight. The sound became horrific. I was about maybe five feet from the mask. I just dove for my mask, scooped up my mask with one arm and I grabbed the stairwell doorway. I had half my body on the floor and the other half was in the stairwell. I figured if the stairs go, I'll roll onto the floor. If the floor goes, I can maybe -- it was a grasp at nothing. This is what I thought the best way maybe out of this, because at the time with the sound of the wind blowing through the elevator banks, because it was air pressure coming in, I had believed at the time it was air pressure coming down. I thought the floors were coming down. But it was tower two falling, which once again I didn't -- it didn't register. I thought it was my building. It must have rumbled for almost what seemed like an eternity, but it must have been only five minutes or so, between the sound of it and the dying down. The entire floor was enveloped in dust, smoke, minimal heat, and a very eerie silence.
Q. You're talking about adjacent to number eight
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.
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.
FIRE MARSHAL RICHARD MC CURRY
So as we walked up
FIREFIGHTER PAUL HYLAND
We were actually looking -- we were trying to figure out exactly the position of where we had to put the rig because they wanted us down, I guess, it was really on West Street and Vesey, and it turned out we had stopped at Chambers and Liberty and we were waiting there because there were thousands of people and everybody was filming and just couldn't get across and we're trying to figure out, and then there was a gigantic explosion. I had the
I walk down and I make a left. Now I'm about 20 to 25 feet from the windows and the building starts to shake, and I look out and I'm just seeing all the steel from the south tower coming down right in front of my face, just all the steel, I mean, everything. I thought it was our building going down. So I just ran back, and the guys thought I was Derek Jeeter because I scooped up my mask, ran into the staircase, we donned our masks and we just stood there and the building shook and we just huddled like children. It shook. We took about a minute or so, that's all I recall, a minute or two, then it stops. Everything was quiet. Then we went back out of the stairs. All the sheetrock, all the ceilings had come down in the building, guys were coming running back in.
So it took us quite a bit of time to hit the lobby and it was just destroyed. I mean, it looked like -- it wasn't the same lobby 15 minutes ago. It was just completely gone, every window was shattered, all the ceiling tile, the elevator banks had let go it seemed, the floor was all crushed down.
FIREFIGHTER DAVID SANDVIK
We start heading down the block and we get down to I guess about
We got a report of people trapped. So we pick up everything, put the roof rope back on, extra cylinders, and I happened to see a lobby guy, like a guy that works in the lobby, and I asked him which elevators does he have running, and he said all the elevators are out except for the low-rise, which will take us to 16.
We just finished searching the floor and I was with -- it was me, the boss and Artie, and the south tower came down and our building rocked. I remember windows blowing out and the air pressure in the hallway felt like we were almost in like a wind tunnel, and I remember the boss just saying get to the staircase.
We got down to the lobby, and when we got out of the stairwell, the lobby was deserted. Nobody was down there except the people coming out of our stairwell. We were walking through and the elevator doors were blowing off. The lobby was just like a complete mess. I remember grabbing the proby that day and we were looking down the elevator bank and I said, man, this would make a hell of a picture.
FIREFIGHTER JOHN WILSON
I would say we were in the lobby I don't think it was more than five or ten minutes, and they were talking, I guess discussing where should we go, what should we do. I think the lieutenant was on his way back to us to talk to us, and we heard the loudest roar that I ever heard in my life. Everybody just ran. We ran away from the noise. So the noise was to my east as I was standing the there. We ran back basically the way we came in, I don't know how far. All of a sudden I was just picked up. I felt the wind from behind me just pick me up and throw me. So now I'm on the ground. Now I started crawling. Hopefully I think I'm crawling the way I came in. However long that lasted, ten seconds -- I don't know. It seemed like a long time. It just subsided, the noise. It was just like a crescendo sound like boom, boom, boom, and it just got louder and faster for like -- what did it last, ten seconds or something like that?
So Mike had cut, I would say, maybe two pieces of pipe or the sheet metal or whatever he was cutting. He was cutting another piece. Now we heard this noise again, like this rumbling noise. I assumed the same thing is happening that just happened however long ago it was. It didn't seem like it was a half hour. It seemed to happen pretty fast. So I just was standing right there. It was Ray, me, Mike and Scott. The other two guys from 113 actually left. Ray asked them – he goes, "I'm going to go outside and see if I can go around." He was looking for another way to access Bob Nagel. So it was just Ray, me, Mike, Scott and one guy from 113 that I remember being there now. So it was five of us. Now we hear this rumbling again. We're like, "Oh, Jesus. Now what?" We tried to run again. We were running the way I think we came in. We were running back, I would say, towards
FIREFIGHTER JOHN WEBER
I was just getting my bearings to see exactly where I was, and you just heard a banging, "bang, bang, bang." People yelled that it was coming through the window. The way the noise was going to me or to a lot of us, we thought it was another plane coming. It was two; why not three or four. It sounded to us like it was a plane coming through the windows. Most of us that were in that little group there ran towards the entrance where we came in. As I'm facing out towards
LIEUTENANT JOSEPH PATRICIELLO
As my men went to obtain some extinguishers, I happened to be looking up and saw the explosion or the building fail with the ensuing fireball and cloud. It didn't appear to me at that moment the building was coming down. But when the noise level began to pick up, it was obvious that something wrong was going on. We all proceeded to run southwesterly towards
BATTALION CHIEF EDWARD HENRY
I assume I was walking southeast, away from the
The first thing I saw in the clear blue sky was three fighter planes coming over and I said, “Geez, what happened? Are we at war? What is it?”