The Federal Investigation of 9/11 Ignored Recorded, Eyewitness Accounts of Firefighters Who Heard Explosions Just Before the Towers Collapsed

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: September 10, 2021 ~

Original World Trade Center Complex, March 2001

Original World Trade Center Complex, March 2001

On September 11, 2001 we were living in the quaint town of Garden City, Long Island, New York. The town was a 46-minute ride to Manhattan on the Long Island Rail Road. That easy proximity to the Big Apple meant that many folks in the town worked for financial firms, including those located in the World Trade Center Towers. It also meant that Garden City was among the suburban towns that suffered significant loss of life on 9/11: 23 of our residents never came home on the Long Island Rail Road that day – or any day thereafter.

Almost every person in Garden City knew someone who had died: a son, a wife, a husband, a parent, a neighbor, a colleague, or a fellow church member. Our heretofore cheerful town that clipped happy faces in the shrubs in the village square was gripped with sorrow. How do you explain to a child that their daddy won’t be coming home anymore because unspeakable evil and violence had occurred on U.S. soil just a short train-ride from their home.

Of the 23 from Garden City who had perished on that day, 11 worked for the trading house, Cantor Fitzgerald. Of those 11, there were 4 young men in their twenties. Cantor Fitzgerald’s headquarters were located on the 101st to 105th floors of One World Trade Center, the North Tower. That was the first Tower to be hit on 9/11, at 8:46 a.m. The ensuing raging fire, smoke and debris blocked off the staircase as an exit route to the floors above. Everyone who reported to work that day at Cantor Fitzgerald perished, 658 people, or two-thirds of its New York workforce at the time. The Cantor Fitzgerald losses represented 22 percent of the 2,996 people who died on 9/11.

After a time, Americans’ grief turned to anger and a demand for clear answers.

Today, when it comes to climate change or the pandemic, government officials tell us to follow the science. But when it came to 9/11, government officials have effectively been telling Americans for two decades to ignore the scientists. We’re talking about the 3,486 architects and engineers who have signed their names to a petition to re-open the 9/11 investigation, because they feel strongly that:

“…there is sufficient doubt about the official story and therefore the 9/11 investigation must be re-opened and must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.”

Thousands of architects and engineers in the U.S. and abroad have challenged the federal government’s final report that explains why the Twin Towers collapsed. The final report was issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on October 26, 2005. That report lists 13 NIST investigators, 78 contributors to the investigation, and 5 NIST “experts and consultants.” That’s a total of 96 people versus the 3,486 architects and engineers who say the federal government’s report is unreliable and must be re-opened.

NIST’s final report on the collapse of World Trade Center 7 (WTC 7), a 47-story, steel-framed building that was not hit by a plane, but collapsed in free fall at 5:20 p.m. on 9/11, was released by NIST on November 8, 2008 – more than seven years after the controversial event had occurred. (For the controversy surrounding statements made by Larry Silverstein in 2004 regarding WTC 7 on the PBS Program “America Rebuilds,” see here.)

The architects and engineers and physics experts who are challenging the NIST version of events surrounding the collapse of the Twin Towers, write as follows:

“What can explain the near-total pulverization of approximately 8.8 million square feet of 5.5-inch-thick lightweight concrete flooring and the near-total dismemberment of 220 stories of steel structure? [Each Tower was 110 stories.] NIST provides no explanation, and gravity alone appears to be implausible. A simple analysis of the approximate amount of energy required to pulverize the concrete and dismember the steel structures indicates that about 1,255 gigajoules of energy would have been required, far exceeding the estimated 508 gigajoules of gravitational potential energy contained in the buildings.

“The near-total pulverization and dismemberment of the structures becomes even more difficult to explain when we consider that the collapses occurred ‘essentially in free fall.’ Near-total pulverization and dismemberment would require a tremendous collision of materials at each floor, and yet NIST claims that the structure below ‘offered minimal resistance to the falling building mass.’ The official hypothesis thus attempts to have it both ways: ‘minimal resistance,’ ‘free fall,’ deceleration ‘far too small to be perceptible’ — and yet near-total pulverization and dismemberment of the buildings’ concrete and steel. But according to Dr. Steven Jones, a former physics professor at Brigham Young University, ‘The paradox is easily resolved by the explosive demolition hypothesis, whereby explosives quickly remove lower-floor material including steel support columns and allow near free-fall-speed collapses.’ ”

NIST writes in its Q&A on the building collapses that it “found no corroborating evidence for alternative hypotheses suggesting that the buildings were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives or by missiles….”

That statement means that NIST, a U.S. taxpayer-funded federal institution, disregarded the most reliable corroborating evidence that could possibly exist – the eyewitness accounts of the courageous members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), who were personally on the scene that day and highly alert, because they were attempting to save their own lives and those of others.

From October 2001 through January 2002, the eyewitness accounts of FDNY firefighters, paramedics and EMTs were recorded at the instruction of Thomas Von Essen, the New York City Fire Commissioner. Americans owe that man a deep debt of gratitude. Any criminal investigation would necessarily require a transcribed accounting from the eyewitnesses to the crime. (To ignore that evidence is to suggest that the official narrative of the crime had already been decided.)

The New York Times filed a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request for those records in February 2002. Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration refused to make them public and the Times had to go to court against the city. The Times won the suit and announced it was making the records public on August 12, 2005. The trove became known as the FDNY Oral Histories. All 503 oral histories are available here.

Using those FDNY Oral Histories, Graeme MacQueen, a retired professor at McMaster University in Ontario, found that 118 of those interviewed had indicated that they had heard explosions at the scene on 9/11. MacQueen released his report on August 21, 2006 in the Journal of 9/11 Studies.

We read those 118 interviews and selected the five below as examples of the evidence of explosions that NIST dismissed out of hand when it wrote that no corroborating evidence of explosions to support a thesis of controlled demolition existed.

Americans need to trust their government. It’s a matter of national interest and national security that studies that have the seal of the U.S. government are reliable and trustworthy. Lack of trust in government leads to large segments of the population ignoring the threat of climate change; distrusting government-promoted vaccines in a pandemic; or attempting to overthrow the government, as occurred on January 6.

The Biden administration should listen to what 3,486 architects and engineers are asking and initiate a new investigation into the building collapses on 9/11.

In the following excerpts from the FDNY Oral Histories, we have underlined the areas where explosions are referenced. The full originals can be read at the respective hyperlinks.


Interview with Firefighter Rich Banaciski of Ladder 22.

Banaciski: “We got the alarm for us to respond, just, I would say, a minute after the second plane had hit the tower. Then they actually came over the voice alarm. Actually told the companies to respond outlet. We responded in and it was all the west side companies were actually all running down together, down the West Side Highway, because it was closed going northbound. So we could see what was going on, the two towers, both of them burning pretty good and then we got into, down to the site. We were at the corner of West and Vesey. That’s where we parked the rig, in front of the Verizon building.

“We were told to bring extra cylinders. We each brought our extra cylinders and we brought our rollups, the whole thing, and we reported in to the command post, which was in front of — I think it was the Merrill Lynch building. There was a parking garage. There were two ramps that went in that parking garage.”

Questioner: “On West Street?”

Banaciski: “On West Street. We reported in to there and I remember they had the command post set up. They were telling the engines to the one side, all the trucks to the other side, put your cylinders in the middle. We were there. They were getting the command structure going. I just remember we were — initially we were out by the street and they started having jumpers, so they all kind of moved back towards the parking garage, towards the building, so nothing would come down on us.

“We were there I don’t know, maybe 10, 15 minutes and then I just remember there was just an explosion. It seemed like on television they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions. Everybody just said run and we all turned around and we ran into the parking garage because that’s basically where we were. Running forward would be running towards it. Not thinking that this building is coming down. We just thought there was going to be a big explosion, stuff was going to come down.

“There was just a tremendous cloud that came into the parking garage. Somebody actually laid out a search rope, I think it was the officer of 76 Engine too, Lieutenant Farrington. He laid out a search rope so some of the guys could find their way to a back door, set up a back staircase in the Merrill Lynch building. We followed that up and we ended up coming out behind the building where the Marina is. Back in there. A lot of guys made their way out there.

“We kind of — from there we kind of regrouped together because we lost each other when the building came down. We all ran, so we kind of regrouped there, got ourselves together. Then there was a lot of people not knowing what to do, do you know what I mean.”

Interview with EMT Gregg Brady, Battalion 4.

Brady: “We were standing underneath and Captain Stone was speaking again. We heard — I heard 3 loud explosions. I look up and the north tower is coming down now, 1 World Trade Center.”

Questioner: “Did you see any fire Chiefs or anybody like that?”

Brady: “I saw two fire Chiefs. I don’t recall their names. I saw two fire Chiefs, Chief Basile, Captain Stone and I don’t recall who else was over there. We were standing in a circle in the middle of West Street. They were talking about what was going on. At that time, when I heard the 3 loud explosions, I started running west on Vesey Street towards the water.”

Interview of Firefighter Edward Cachia, FDNY

Cachia: “As my officer and I were looking at the south tower, it just gave. It actually gave at a lower floor, not the floor where the plane hit, because we originally had thought there was like an internal detonation explosives because it went in succession, boom, boom, boom, boom, and then the tower came down.”

Interview with Firefighter Fernando Camacho, FDNY

Camacho: “We went across the lobby of the hotel, going north, and we exited and made a right going towards the second tower, the south tower. We must have walked about 100-200 feet to revolving doors, which led into a hallway to where the mall was. I could see maybe 20, 25 civilians and I believe Ladder 25, which was about another 100 to 150 feet ahead of us.

“As we came in through the revolving doors, the lights went out. A second or two later everything started to shake. You could hear explosions. We didn’t know what it was. We thought it was just a small collapse.

“As I looked straight ahead of me, I saw total darkness. Everything was coming our way like a wave. The firefighters that were ahead of us and the civilians that were ahead of us totally disappeared. We turned around. We were all pretty much within ten feet of each other: lieutenant, chauffeur, roof, OV, can. As we turned around, I ran probably maybe ten feet and that’s when the body of the building or body of the collapse hit, and we were flying through the air basically. I must have flown 30, 40 feet through the air.

“Then total quiet. You couldn’t breathe. You couldn’t see anything. None of the equipment worked. My face piece was gone, flashlight, helmet. There were about maybe five or six civilians around us. We tried to get them out, as we tried to make our way out.

“We did a perimeter search. Everything behind us was blocked and to our sides. We came back out basically through the same way we came into the building. We were facing the West Side Highway now, but there was a hole in the side of the building. So that’s how we found our way out.”

Interview with Firefighter Frank Campagna, FDNY:

[Describing his experience in One World Trade Center, the North Tower, on 9/11:]

Campagna: “Any other explosions that we felt from inside were maybe extra machinery or something like that. Those were the words that we were getting. So we just kept going up the stairwell. We got up to about the 17th floor, and we felt another pretty big explosion. At this time about every two floors, every three floors you’d stop into an office, get some water, take a breather. Guys were pretty winded. They had equipment on and carrying everything.

“We’re taking a breather, and I believe that’s when the other Trade Center went down and everybody felt it and they didn’t know exactly what it was. Everyone headed towards the stairwell, thinking it was a safer place to be.

“After that happened, the building was still standing, everybody kept going up. So we kept going up, still stopping about every two, three floors. People still coming down. We were just telling them to keep calm and walk on the way down.

“We got up to about the 28th, 30th floor, and we were taking another break. There was an office or we had a whole floor full of people. A chief came down from a floor above with another company and said everybody evacuate, everybody out now. We had to switch staircases. I believe the staircase we were in, there was no way down it anymore on the lower level. There was word that it had been taken out; we don’t know what from.”

Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.