FIREFIGHTER MICHAEL REGAN
As everybody was running towards us, we waited for the cloud to disperse a little bit. Then we started heading in. People were running towards us. I was giving oxygen to people that were gasping for air, and when we finally got in there, there were a couple of Chiefs and a couple of people yelling and screaming about you know, fire over there, secondary explosions and we stretched a line off a rig and started putting out fires, me and Jerry Suden. Lieutenant Rohan told us to stay with that, that we would team back up.
I guess we were operating for -- it's hard to tell time, I mean time, time was so -- but we put out, I don't know, a couple of trucks, a couple of rigs, a couple of civilian cars, then they started taking guys off the roof of, I think it was building 6.
FIREFIGHTER DENNIS FISCHER
Time is kind of fuzzy, but I would say maybe a minute after we dropped our gear, the Lieutenant was going to walk up to the command post and find out what was going on. He got maybe 40 to 50 feet ahead of us. At that point, a bunch of people started running towards us, running north on
A. Guys, get the fuck out of here that building is going to come down. It's coming down. That building is coming down. We looked at each other. We kind of looked around, we didn't really think it was going to happen. Maybe 15, 20 seconds after he said that, we heard the rumbling. We looked up, that I remember as plain as day. I looked up and I saw from the top, I actually watched it with my own eyes, I saw the top start to pancake down. I remember looking at the proby I was with. We looked at each other in amazement. The time seemed to like stand still for a second. We looked at each other. We looked back up. We looked back at each other. It seemed like a bunch of time went by. It was probably like a fraction of a second. Everybody started just running the other way. I saw my Lieutenant as I was looking forward that was ahead of me running towards me, just waving me, just run, run.
LIEUTENANT GLEN ROHAN
We got approximately to Vesey, a little further past Vesey, I would say about 200 feet from the tower, when we heard a noise. I wouldn't even call it an explosion, but it was enough to make you look up. When we looked up, you could see things coming off the sides of the building of what was then number One World Trade Center. We looked at it for probably about five seconds before I realized that this building is coming down.
FIRE MARSHAL STEVEN HEAVEY
And I remember Fire Marshal Mazzarella -- we were all looking up and he turned to me and he said, "You know, Steve, I think we're a little bit too close." And at that point there was a loud noise and the building from the upper floors started pushing like the dust and debris and a shower of sparks and it was clear that some sort of major structural failure was in the works and, you know, our instinct was to run. The guys started running.
At that point I didn't know the extent of the collapse. I didn't realize it was a big pancake. I can't say I recall the other tower collapsing. You know, needless to say the whole area took on a very sinister tone. We didn't know what was coming next. Suddenly every mailbox and city bus was a bomb. You know, every civilian was a terrorist and we made our way down to the battery.
FIRE MARSHAL JOHN COYLE
I remember glancing to my right, and Joe Mazzarella was at that moment looking up. I suddenly saw his face like a look of complete terror, and he just turned on his heel and took off running. I started running after him and looking over my shoulder. The tower was – it looked to me – I thought it was exploding, actually. That’s what I thought for hours afterwards, that it had exploded or the plane or there had been some device on the plane that had exploded, because the debris from the tower had shot out far over our heads. It was raining down.
Everybody was covered in this dust, really super covered. But nobody knew what had happened. I still thought it had exploded, something had exploded.
FIRE MARSHAL JOHN MURRAY
We are getting ready to go out the door. The TV is still on. We see the second tower explode. There was nothing, at least those first few minutes, there was nothing about another plane. It was just that the thing exploded, so now we thought that it was a bomb. We jump in the car, we take off, we shoot over there and we were shitting in our pants driving over there because now we figured it was a bomb. We didn't think it was another plane.
So we start walking up the bike path and the whole time you are hearing, boom boom boom, you know, more fucking bombs, what the hell is this. They kind of sounded like block busters or something. We were walking and I'm like what the fuck is going on. More bombs going off? As we are walking, we see a detective looking, everybody is looking up and we are kind of looking forward walking, you know, heads up guys, we got jumpers. That's when I look up and see all these people.
Q. Is the north tower still up?
A. Yes, the north tower was still up. It was about that time that you hear that same rumble, oh, fuck, it's happening again, now telling everybody run down, down toward -- actually before that we were telling people just to go down.
A. Yes, south on that promenade there. Head down that way, just everybody go. Now you hear that big jet airplane going again. Fuck. Everybody starts running and this time, like I said, it was coming down when we were right there by the water, ran down maybe 50 feet or something.
FIREFIGHTER RICARDO RODRIGUEZ
When I got off the rig I could see the chauffeur -- I heard the chauffeur yell something. He was running up
FIREFIGHTER JAMES CURRAN
Us, Engine 7 and Ladder 1, we all responded with the Firstg Battalion. We were there for 5, 15, 16 minutes. We had found out what grate the leak was coming from and our chief Pfeifer was bent over with the gas meter. We heard the plane, we looked up. It was low enough that it rattles the buildings we were standing at. We saw it come out from behind the buildings and hit tower one and like I said, a fireball, looked like 10 or 20 stories big, shot out the south side of the tower and then out the hole that the plane made going in.
We went in through the revolving doors. There was a mini lobby. There was like brown haze, smoke in the lobby. A lot of the marble slabs were falling of the wall, cracked. There were also two people in like the little section of this lobby. One guy was burnt pretty much to a crisp and his jacket was the only thing left on him. Put that out with a can and then there was a lady off to the right of us that was alive but she was screaming that she couldn’t breathe. So I hit her with the can and cooled her down.
Q. Where did these people come from?
A. I don’t know if they were in the elevator or what not, but they were the only two people I saw in the lobby and they were right in the entranceway. Like I said she was still smoking when we got there. The other guy was dead and she was just screaming that she couldn’t breathe. After I used about a half a can on her, we went through the lobby. All the elevator banks were kind of blown out at probably 70 degree angles, 60 degree angles, and there is all rubble and spot fires in the lobby.
Q. Where did that come from?
A. I think they said the fuel went all the way down the elevator shafts and when it finally hit rock bottom it blew out all the elevators.
Q. Is that it?
A. That’s what I have been hearing. I don’t know. I don’t think anybody really knows. It was pretty much rubble in the whole lobby walking through.
After the 23, actually we were sitting on the 23, when I don’t know – it wasn’t the tower going down, but the building shook and vibrated. I was sitting right next to the first elevator shaft, just my sleeve was in front of me. There was a breeze strong enough coming out, it ruffled my shirt and we all just dove into the stairway.
We started filing out and following the line of the building. I got just underneath the north walkway. A guy started screaming to run. When I got underneath the north bridge I looked back and you heard it, I heard like every floor went chu-chu-chu. Looked back and from the pressure everything was getting blown out of the floors before it actually collapsed.
Maybe another 15 minutes we were all linked up again on the 30th floor. Actually me and him, we had gone up to the 31 and forced the door. As soon as you took it, you smelled jet fuel right away so we shut the door.
FIREFIGHTER TIERNACH CASSIDY
We don’t actually see the second plane hit, but we see the impact. We were on of course the north side, so we saw the huge explosion engulf the whole top of that building.
We start walking down
Q. What did It sound like?
A. It sounded like a plane just getting ready to land, just getting closer, coming in; a bowling ball getting closer when it's ready to hit that sweet spot you know.
Then, like I said, building seven was in eminent collapse. They blew the horns. They said everyone clear the area until we got that last civilian out.
So yeah, then we just stayed on Vesey until building seven came down. There was nothing we could do. The flames were coming out of every window of that building from the explosion from the south tower. So then building seven down. When that started coming down, you heard that pancaking sound again. Everyone jumped up and starts running west towards the water.
Q. Why was building seven on fire? Was that flaming debris from tower two –
A. From tower two.
Q. – that fell onto that building and lit it on fire.
Q. Because it really got going, that building seven. I saw it late in the day, and like the first seven floors were on fire. It looked like heavy fire on seven floors.
A. It was fully engulfed. That whole building – there were pieces of tower two in building seven and the corners of the building missing and whatnot. But just looking up at it from ground level, however many stories it was, 40-some-odd, you could see the flames going straight through from one side of the building to the other. That’s an entire block.
Q. I wonder what was burning in there. What do you think was burning? It's an office building. There's not a lot of wood in there.
A. You figure, that jet fuel, that explosion that hit, everything just came out. Remember that explosion? It was massive, that fireball. That jet fuel just –
Q. It was jet fuel, yeah. That must have been where it landed. That’s probably where a lot of the fuel went.
A. A 25,000 gallon tank I think it had?
Q. It had to go somewhere.
FIREFIGHTER DEREK BROGAN
We were in an outer office on the 23rd floor on the southeast corner, which I guess faces tower two. Then we felt the rumble. You just heard this noise that sounded like the subway train going by but magnified by a thousand. When we heard that noise, we just all got up. We didn't bother to look out the window. We just made an exit out of that room. We got to 9 Truck. I remember them yelling that we had to close the doors behind us. We closed the doors behind us, and I went to go back in the stairwell and there wasn't any room in the stairwell. It was loaded with people. So myself and a guy named Schroder from 10 Engine went down the hallway and found a closet, and we darted into the closet. We were in there maybe five to ten seconds. Then we heard a knock on the door. We opened the door. At that time the lights went out and the whole place just was -- you couldn't see anything. Dust, smoke, whatever it was. Outside was a Port Authority cop. We dragged him in with us. We couldn't get him all the way in the room because he was laying on the floor and his leg was hanging outside of the doorway. This wind came down the hallway and blew the doors open that were in that office that we were in. I remember me yelling that his ankle was getting crushed outside the door. That subsided after about 20, 30 seconds. The rumbling was still there, but the wind was gone. We opened the door. We yelled outside where 5 Engine was, because you couldn't see anything. They said they were here. They just kept on yelling. We found them in the stairwell. We went down with a number of civilians, maybe like nine or ten civilians and maybe four Port Authority cops, it seemed. We were all carrying people and sharing our masks with them. As we got back in the stairwell, we didn't know whether we were going up or going down. But the rumbling was so intense that we didn't really know what had happened. We just assumed that our building had been hit by another plane.
We waited in the lobby probably about a minute, and then the officer just told us that we have to cut our losses and try to find our way out, because you couldn't see anything. There was gas leaking all over the place. The marble was falling on top of us.
When we were a couple blocks away from the building, we heard the noise coming down. It was just like dominos only it was probably going faster and faster and faster. Then you just couldn't see anything.
Q. This is the second collapse?
A. This is the second collapse.
FIREFIGHTER RONALD CIFU
I went up Church and made a left turn onto
When I first got there, there were a lot of maydays and urgent messages. One of the messages I heard was we lost an elevator, and then there was a second message that we lost another elevator.
I think the standpipe system itself might have been severed, so I don't know if the standpipes were ever used. If they were, I don't think we had a good supply of water. I don't think we had a good supply of water from the hydrants. It seemed like we were getting – the pressure was just dropping as we used all the hydrants in the area. The water pressure seemed to be a problem. It was just the more hydrants you were using, the less pressure you were getting and you just couldn't supply. Even after the collapse when we were starting to relay water to the car fires and stuff like that, we just couldn't get the water. I think that was a big problem.
Even when I went down there a week later, it was the same problem. We just couldn't get any pressure out of the hydrants.
FIREFIGHTER TIMOTHY MARMION
We got the call at about I guess 10 to 9. We came down to the
So we were on the scene for an hour at that point. It probably took us 45 minutes to get up there, I would think. I would think at about a quarter after 9 we started up. So if that happened a little after 10, I would think 45 minutes.
Q. 45 minutes? Do you recall what stairway designation that you took up?
A. The stairway probably close to
Q. Yeah, they were afraid of them collapsing.
FIREFIGHTER STEPHEN ZASA
Upon that time I heard a plane roar. I had my window down and on my side we saw a plane flying very low come right across us and with a loud, you know, the engines revved up, and I had mentioned to him, I had no idea that it was heading towards that way, and I just said like where is this guy going, you know, he was extremely low, not realizing it was another plane heading towards the World Trade, and we saw it struck the building, we saw a big mushroom of flame, of fire coming up, and it was like disbelief, and he had gotten on the radio and notified the dispatcher another plane had struck the World Trade Center.
BATTALION CHIEF THOMAS VALLEBUONA
Upon getting back to the car, I started to grab my turnout gear. I told the other chief we’ll go up there, see what's going on, that we’ll check in up there and I’ll be right behind him, let them know that we have some cylinders here, as silly as it seems now, when I heard “boom,” an exploding sound, a real loud bang. I looked up, and I could see the
Myself and Chief Cruthers started to talk and I said, “What should we do?” and “ba-boom” again, the same sound, the same noise, the same shuddering, shrilling noise of metal falling as it cascades down.
You could hear like things hitting the ground, “boom, boom, boom, “ and stuff.
So we got some lines going and we were trying to knock things down, and the lines basically went flat. They didn’t go flat, but they went limp, almost. You realized right away that the mains must have gone out in either the first or the second collapse. Basically our water supply was nothing. It wasn’t even enough for the line coming off that pump. We were trying to work on other – trying to find other sources of water.
FIREFIGHTER RICHARD CARLETTI
We were standing there. The officer from 91 says stay here, we're going to get two more guys and get teamed up, and what went through my mind was – the only thing I was annoyed at was that we were going to have to hike 80 floors. We stood there for about ten minutes and I just heard a loud groan by everyone in the street. I guess the south tower started to lean. The top 30 floors leaned over. I was looking up at the north tower. I was trying to monitor more what was going on in the north tower with the radio, and they were on three different channels at this point. I looked up and about the 70th floor I saw the western wall of the south tower start to belly out. Tommy turned, said run. He started running and I turned around behind him and we ran into the revolving door of the Winter Garden room, which is a glass atrium, I guess about ten stories high.
When the north tower collapsed, I remember seeing the antenna do a little rock back and forth and I could just hear the floors pancaking. I heard it for about 30 pancakes, just boom, boom, boom, boom, and the dust blew up to us.
We checked the hydrants. We only found hydrants working on the east side of the street. The west side were all shut down, were all dead.
We came back down Stuyvesant. From this point we just went like a complete circle back down to
FIREFIGHTER GERARD GORMAN
So we rushed in to the lobby and pretty much pretty quick the guy, Gregg Atlas, who didn't make it out, from 10 Engine, came over to us and said to us, 5 Engine, you're going up to the fire. Just put water on the fire. Somewhere along the line I heard the elevator drop. He said, oh, shit, and just right after he said that, you heard a huge explosion, and I looked to my right and I could see the reflection, just the whole Financial Center, a reflection of flames just turn orange, basically, because it's all glass, you know, turn orange and you saw it.
So now I get back to we're on the 23rd, 24th floor, we're drinking water, we're getting loaded up again to go back up, we're taking our roll-ups again because we didn't hear nothing about no this is an evacuation. We still don't know, of course, and we're trying to stay together with 10. We're like making more and more of an effort to stay together because
it's very hard. Then it was like a fucking rumbling. It was like an earthquake. It was like worse and worse. All the windows blew in. It got real dark.
Q. The floor you were on, the windows blew in?
A. Yes. I think so.
Q. Wow. So, in other words, they gave way?
A. I think. I think. I remember diving into the core of the building by the elevators. I fucking forgot my mask, dove in, just diving. It was like an earthquake. It was shaking and then the lights went out and it got shitty in there. We all made it back in the stairway, all got out -- I mean, our officer, Lieutenant Bohack, said that's it, we're going out.
So on the overhang I remember seeing a frigging Bomb Squad cop and I asked him, what the hell blew up? He goes, I don't know. Oh, shit. Fucking he don't know. So I ended up going down there, and then between the two small buildings there's an opening, a space, and then I heard rumbling again right as I was in that space, me and the Port Authority cops, the ESU cop, the Bomb Squad cop, I guess, we heard the rumble. We all ducked into the overhang of, I guess, 5 World Trade Center, where the staircase was. We ducked in there and everything got dark. I mean, it was like a rumble and it was like another earthquake again.