In Pennsylvania, a fire has damaged three buildings near the 9/11 memorial site where hijacked airliner Flight 93 crashed, but there were no reports of any injuries. The National Park Service reported there was no destruction to the memorial site itself. It was built in the field where the United Airlines flight went down Sept. 11, 2001. The trio of buildings sits about two miles away from the actual crash location.
The source of the fire was under investigation, explained the park service. The buildings that were gutted by the flames were the ones that held over 10 percent of the memorial’s assortment of artifacts. Many of the items had been placed in boxes that were considered fire proof, stated Park Service spokesperson Mike Litterst. Staff agency members had been powerless to obtain speedy access to the scene so they were unable to conclude just exactly what objects were ruined. Litterst noted that employees were able to save a picture assortment and also an oral history collection from the inferno, but the outcome of an American flag, which had flown over the United States Capitol on Sept. 11, was unknown. There were also numerous other pieces of memorabilia that were in question.
The 2,200-acre memorial area is located close to Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which is around 80 miles to the southeast of Pittsburgh. It features a wall that partly encloses the field where Flight 93 went down, killing all the people who were on board, including the hijackers. There are plans to open up a visitor’s center sometime in the latter part of 2015. The blaze did not affect the center, stated the park service. They added that primary reports were that widespread damage was done to the complex, which were indeed correct. However, all employees were safely evacuated from the buildings. Seven different fire departments reportedly came to the scene to battle the blaze, declared a Somerset County dispatcher. Numerous news crews filmed the thick, dark smoke as it billowed in the distance. There was also a construction crane in view located at the incomplete visitor’s center spotted in the foreground.
A statement came from the group Families of Flight 93, which is made up of relatives of victims from the crash. It said that they were extremely saddened to hear about the fire at the memorial but that they were also very grateful that no one was hurt. The press release also added that they waited anxiously for any details about the extent of the damage to the objects, and what was the reason for the blaze. Gordon Felt, who is the president of Families of Flight 93, spoke to several different news sources and repeated about family members being anxious about the condition of items at the site. Felt explained that he had lost his older brother Edward on the flight. Many of the family members of the fallen fear that the fire damaged items are irreplaceable, especially considering the way they lost their loved ones in that Pennsylvania field.
By Kimberly Ruble