Eyewitnesses Recalled Explosions, No Alarms or Sprinklers
The collapses of the Twin Towers were witnessed firsthand by scores of people, most of them emergency responders.
The majority of those accounts have been suppressed by the state for years. In August of 2005, the New York Times published the single largest and most authoritative body of eyewitness evidence yet assembled, as a result of winning a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit 1
Accounts Earlier Made Public
Prior to the release of the oral histories, eyewitness reports of with descriptions of the World Trade Center building collapses came from a variety of diverse sources, such as mainstream media, documentaries, and the Web.
Louie Cacchioli, was one of the first firefighters to enter the South Tower as it burned. A 20-year veteran of the fire department, Cacchioli told People Weekly: 2
I was taking firefighters up in the elevator to the 24th floor to get in position to evacuate workers. On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there were bombs set in the building.
Eyewitness Jeff Birnbaum, president of Broadway Electrical Supply Co., New York, recalled events in the South Tower:
When we got to about 50 feet from the South Tower, we heard the most eerie sound that you would ever hear. A high-pitched noise and a popping noise made everyone stop. We all looked up. At the point, it all let go. The way I see it, it had to be the rivets. The building let go. There was an explosion and the whole top leaned toward us and started coming down. 3
Eyewitness Neil deGrasse Tyson recounted his recollection of explosions at the onset of the collapses in an e-mail he sent to his family on the day after the attack:
I hear a second explosion in WTC 2, then a loud, low-frequency rumble that precipitates the unthinkable -- a collapse of all the floors above the point of explosion.
First the top surface, containing the helipad, tips sideways in full view. Then the upper floors fall straight down in a demolition-style implosion, taking all lower floors with it, even those below the point of the explosion. 4
... As I dress for survival: boots, flashlight, wet towels, swimming goggles, bicycle helmet, gloves, I hear another explosion followed by a now all-too familiar rumble that signaled the collapse of WTC 1, the first of the two towers to have been hit. I saw the iconic antenna on this building descend straight down in an implosion twinning the first.
The video 9/11, The Greatest Lie Ever Sold contains several excerpts of video reports in which witnesses describe what they saw and heard. In the first, a reporter gives the following account:
The chief of safety of the fire department of New York City told me he recieved word of the possibility of a secondary device: that is another bomb going off.
He tried to get his men out as quickly as he could, but he said that there was another explosion which took place and according to his theory he thinks that there were actually devices that were planted within the building.
The second excerpt records the impressions of an amerature videographer
45 minutes into the taping that we were doing there was an explosion -- it was way up where the fire was -- and the whole building at that point bellyed out, in flames, and everybody ran.
The third excerpt, a man in talk-show format panel states:
I was about five blocks away when I heard explosions -- three thuds -- and turned around to see the building we just got out of tend to tip over and fold in on itself.
The final clip shows a man in a hospital bed, with a video banner reading "AMERICA RESPONDS". He states:
and all of a suddend it sounded like gunfire -- you know, bang bang bang bang bang -- then all of a sudden three big explosions.
Neil deGrasse Tyson provided a graphic description of the South Tower collapase in an e-mail sent to his family and friends on 9/12/01.
John Bussey, foreign editor for the Wall Street Journal described the collapse of the South Tower thusly:
I heard this metallic roar, looked up and saw what I thought was just a peculiar site of individual floors, one after the other exploding outward. I thought to myself, â€œMy God, they âre going to bring the building down. And they, whoever they are, had set charges. In fact the building was imploding down. I saw the explosions, and I thought, â€˜This is not a good place to be, because we are too close to the building, and its too easy for the building to topple over. 5
Other accounts are in the form of video records. One is of firefighters recalling detonations in the South Tower, in a firehouse discussion:
fireman2: We made it outside, we made it about a block.
fireman1: We made it at least 2 blocks.
fireman2: 2 blocks.
fireman1: and we started runnin'
fireman1: Floor by floor it started poppin' out ..
fireman2: It was as if as if they had detonated, det..
fireman1: yea detonated yea
fireman2: as if they had planned to take down a building,
fireman1: All the way down, I was watchin it, and runnin'
fireman3: Just ran up west street.
fireman1: Then you just sort of ... this cloud of s___
just chasin' you down
fireman4: Where did you go?
fireman3: Just ran up west street.
fireman2: You couldn't outrun it.
fireman1: You couldn't outrun it.
fireman4: So what did you do?
fireman2: I jumped behind a battalion car,
I hid under the car, I was waitin' to die.
In another video, a worker at Ground Zero describes what was found in the rubble in the way of objects other than the Towers' steel.
You have two 110 story office buildings.
You don't find a desk.
You don't find a chair.
You don't find a telephone, a computer.
The biggest piece of a telephone I found was half of a keypad,
and it was about this big:
(makes a shape with his hand about 4 inches in diameter)
The building collapsed to dust.
Other Eyewitness Reports
The following eyewitness compared the scene to a Hollywood disaster movie, as did many other people.
When we got to about 50 feet from the South Tower, we heard the most eerie sound that you would ever hear. A high-pitched noise and a popping noise made everyone stop. We all looked up. At the point, it all let go. The way I see it, it had to be the rivets. The building let go. There was an explosion and the whole top leaned toward us and started coming down.
I stood there for a second in total awe, and then said, "What the F_____?" I honestly thought it was Hollywood. 6
References1. The New York Times Company, et al. ... v. City of New York Fire Department ..., Legal Information Institute, 5/24/05
2. Online petitions allow 9/11 skeptics to speak out, Daily Beacon, 2/6/02 [cached]
3. On the Scene at the WTC, Electrical Wholesaling, 2/1/02 [cached]
4. An Eye-Witness Account of the World Trade Center Attacks..., The Planetary Society, [cached]
5. Running Toward Danger: Stories Behind The Breaking News of 9/11, 2002, page 876. Broadway Electrical Supply's Jeff Birnbaum recounts his experience..., ceenews.com, 2/13/02 [cached]