Eyewitness on WTC basement explosions--before the planehit

World Trade Center Building 7: An Unprecendented, Improbable Collapse
--Paul W. Rea, Ph.D

While most Americans will never forget the collapse of the Twin Towers,
fewer recall that a third building in the WTC complex also collapsed on
9/11. Across the street from the Towers, a 47-story, fireproofing-coated,
steel-framed building collapsed neatly into its own foundation at 5:20 p.m.
This collapse was odd in several key respects. The main cause, the Official
Story informs us, was a fire started by flying debris from the Towers.
According to the standard account, Griffin notes, �the fire ignited
thousands of gallons of diesel fuel stored in fire-resistant containers on
the ground floor. The resulting fire then became so hot it caused the
building�s steel reinforcement to collapse.� (Griffin New Pearl Harbor p.

Neither historical precedent nor metallurgical science fully support this
official account. According to the New York Times, �no modern
steel-reinforced high-rise in the United States had ever collapsed in fire.�
(P. D. Scott, Alumni Cal Monthly 9/04) Similar skyscrapers in Los Angeles
and Philadelphia burned for much longer than 7 hours but remained standing.
Granted, there are still questions about how serious the fires were, and how
much structural damage was done by flying debris from the falling Towers.
Authoritative reports suggest that the building did have a deep gash
extending for ten stories on its south side. Shyam Sunder of the Fire
Research Laboratory states that on these floors �about 25% of the depth of
the building was scooped out.� (Popular Mechanics 3/05)

However, photos and videos show fires in only a few windows, most of which
had not been shattered by heat. (�Citizens 9/11 Report� p. 13) If one
assumes, conservatively, that fairly small fires were limited to less than a
dozen floors, then one must question whether WTC-7 came down because of
structural damage aggravated by fire. If structural damage were the main
cause, why would the building have collapsed over seven hours after it

Fuzzy Math and Hard Science: For steel to melt, it must reach a temperature
of 2,770 degrees Fahrenheit. Fire-protected steel such as that in Building 7
can withstand even greater heat. Thomas Eager, Professor of Materials
Engineering at MIT, demonstrated that the fires in WTC-7 wouldn�t have
reached anywhere near the temperatures necessary to melt (or even
substantially weaken) its steel construction.

Working from the assumption that gasoline fires burning in the atmosphere
rarely reach 1,500�F, Prof. Eager showed that the fires fueled by
hydrocarbon fuels could not have exceeded 1,700�F. This means that the
absolute maximum temperatures in WTC-7 fell over 1,000�F short of those
required to fully melt its sturdy steel frame.
(www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wtc/collapse.html) However, Eager�s colleague at MIT,
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Eduardo Kause, proposed a
more credible scenario: softening of the steel as the result of fire.
(Scientific American 10/9/01) Other proponents of fire as the main cause in
the WTC collapses argues that �temperature differentials of hundreds of
degrees across single steel horizontal trusses caused them to sag . . . .�
(Skeptic 6/05) As we�ll see, none of these are credible analyses.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rightly reported that the fires
remained on the southern side of the building, never reaching its northern
side. Though inconclusive, FEMA�s preliminary report theorized that these
fires raged so furiously that they warped the steel on the southern side to
the point where the whole building collapsed.

Another debate surrounds the unusual way that Building 7 collapsed. The
World Trade Center Building Performance Study, FEMA�s official report,
sidesteps two key questions: How, given the position of the damage and the
fires, could the building have dropped directly into its own �footprint�?
Why, if the damage compromised a section over forty stories below, did the
building�s penthouse begin to sag at the very start of its collapse?

When such questions are addressed, FEMA�s �southern-side-fires� scenario
becomes increasingly dubious. If the structural damage was restricted to one
side of the building, as it apparently was, then the structure would have
toppled toward that side. And if, because of heat from the localized fires,
the steel on only one side had begun to warp and buckle, then the structure
would have toppled more like a tree. When a building slides neatly into its
own foundation, however, it has usually imploded in a controlled demolition.
According to architectural engineer Matthys Levy, author of Why Buildings
Fall Down, the collapse of WTC-7 was �very much like a controlled
[implosive] demolition.� (NOVA 4/30/02)

FEMA also found it puzzling to find that �steel members in the debris pile
appear to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures.�
( FEMA Report, Appendix C) How can this physical evidence be explained? If
burning diesel oil can't melt--let alone �evaporate�--fireproofed steel
girders (Wired New York 11/29/01), then what could have generated such
extremely high temperatures? Certain explosives such as Thermite do melt

FEMA�s Report stops short of confirming that burning diesel oil caused the
building�s collapse. The diesel didn�t burn anywhere near hot enough to
weaken steel, especially when it�s sprayed with fireproofing. Moreover, the
fires weren�t large enough to blow out windows or require the attention of
firefighters. FEMA concluded that �It is currently unclear what fuel may
have been present to permit the fires to burn on these lower floors for
approximately 7 hours.� By its own omissions and admissions, then, the FEMA
Report concluded there was a low probability of collapse caused by fire.
(http://www.fema.gov/library/wtcstudy.shtm) Although FEMA called for further
investigation, the 9/11 Commission clearly didn�t want to go there.

The FEMA Report received a rude reception from some professionals in the
field. Fire Engineering, the 125-year old journal of record among fire
engineers and firefighters, blasted the Agency�s investigation of the WTC
collapses as �a half-baked farce.� (Fire Engineering 1/4/02)

WTC-7�s Lease Holder Drops a Bombshell: A year after the strange collapse,
the question of WTC-7 took a new turn. Larry Silverstein, who�d purchased
the WTC complex for a cool $3.2 billion just six weeks before 9/11, revealed
that he�d decided to demolish his own skyscraper. �I remember getting a call
from the Fire Department commander telling me that they weren�t sure they
were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, OWe've had such terrible
loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it. . . . we watched
the building collapse.�� (Italics mine: PBS Home Video "America Rebuilds"
9/02) While one can fully appreciate the considerations for loss of life,
one must also note how Silverstein strongly implies that soon after he�d
decided to �pull it,� he watched the 47-story skyscraper drop to the ground.

At a glance, Silverstein�s admission might seem to solve the mystery. In
reality, though, it raises more questions than it answers. Was the FDNY
really a partner in the decision to demolish Building 7, as some believe
that Silverstein implies? Tom Franklin, the photographer who shot the famous
�Iwo Jima Flag Raising� photograph on 9/11, informs us that �Firemen
evacuated the area as they prepared for the collapse of Building 7.� (One
must also entertain the possibility that the fires worsened after
Silverstein�s statement, and that the Fire Department perceived signs of
immanent collapse.) In any event, however, it�s difficult to imagine what
�pull it� might have meant other than �pull the firefighting effort� or
�push the button.� The Fire Department never entered the building.

If Building 7 came down in a controlled demolition, as so much of the
evidence suggests, then it must have been pre-rigged, a process that often
takes weeks. Assuming that the building was conventionally pre-rigged for
detonation poses two problems: that of positioning the charges and wires
without detection, and, in a less scenario, that of having falling debris
from a nearby Tower # l ignite the charges or disable the wiring. If
demolition did occur, it seems probable that a special team identified key
interior columns and attached radio-controlled explosives to them. This
would have minimized the visibility of suspicious new wires. Preparation for
a limited, precise, remote-controlled detonation might have occurred just
before 9/11.

Security Concerns: Did Silverstein, the new lease holder who�d immediately
taken out a full-coverage policy against terrorism for the whole WTC
complex, have privileged prior knowledge of the attacks? If not, who was
advising him to take out this insurance? On December 6, 2004 a federal jury
awarded $4.6 billion in damages to Silverstein: in just three and a half
years, the Manhattan tycoon had realized a profit of $1.4 billion on his

Besides John O�Neill, just who was responsible for the security of the WTC
buildings? One answer is the president�s younger brother, Marvin Bush. A
coincidence? Perhaps. Securacom, a broad-spectrum security outfit in which
the president�s brother was a major stakeholder, had access to the collapsed
buildings. (American Reporter 3/24/03) In the two weeks prior to 9/11,
Securacom put on extra security shifts. (Griffin New Pearl Harbor p. 180,
note 82) Perhaps the company got the same warnings that others in government
and industry received.

What Got Lost When WTC-7 Came Down? If Building 7�s collapse was an inside
job, what was the motive, who had the means to pull it off, and who
benefited? First off, it�s worth noting that, despite his statement of
intent to �pull it,� Mr. Silverstein collected a vast amount of insurance
money. Another anomaly is that Mayor Giuliani had recently completed a $15
million renovation of his headquarters on the building�s 23rd floor, but
after the airliners slammed into the Twin Towers, he evacuated these
offices. (http://www.wtc7.net/background.html) The public would be well
served to learn why the mayor cleared the building where his command center
was located, but did not call for an evacuation of the Towers.

Many high-profile businesses and government agencies were located in WTC-7.
Salomon Smith Barney and several major banks had offices there. The
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the CIA, the Department of
Defense, and the IRS were all tenants. Strangely, though, none of the heads
of these entities demanded to know why a building housing their offices had
so curiously collapsed.

Could the collapse have destroyed evidence and thereby thwarted ongoing
investigations? If it did, who benefited? Though Silverstein�s insurers
wouldn�t be among them, the decision to �pull� WTC-7 probably delighted many
of his friends among the city�s rich and powerful. The Securities and
Exchange Commission (SEC) provides one example. While the SEC hasn�t
quantified its destroyed files, The Los Angeles Times estimated them at
3,000 to 4,000. These active files included the agency�s inquiry into how
investment banks divvied up the initial public offerings during the
high-tech boom of the late 1990s.

No doubt massive amounts of legal evidence were destroyed. �Ongoing
investigations at the New York SEC will be dramatically affected because so
much of their work is paper-intensive,� laments lawyer Max Berger of
Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann. �This is a disaster for these cases.�
(New York Lawyer Magazine) The subjects of the investigations included huge
corporate players such as Citicorp, Enron, Global Crossing, and BCCI,
otherwise known as �the Bank Convenient for Crooks International.� Among the
documents lost were some that might well have demonstrated links between
Citigroup and the World Com bankruptcy. (National Law Review 9/17/01) Thus
the destruction of WTC-7�s IRS office may have pleased many in New York�s
financial community who have come under scrutiny and even faced prosecution
by the State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer.

Michael Edelstein forwarded:

Fuzzy Math and Hard Science: For steel to melt, it must reach a
of 2,770 degrees Fahrenheit. Fire-protected steel such as that in
Building 7
can withstand even greater heat.

Working from the assumption that gasoline fires burning in the
rarely reach 1,500�F, Prof. Eager showed that the fires fueled by
hydrocarbon fuels could not have exceeded 1,700�F.

This is an often-repeated canard of WTC critics.

The 2,770 �F temperature is for steel to reach a liquid state. Soft,
mushy steel, while short of melting, is not going to hold up a building.
For those of you who have watched a blacksmith work, compare the effect of
a hammer on cold, black iron, red-hot iron, white-hot iron, and a pool of
molten iron (which blacksmiths never reach). The red-hot iron is well
short of melting, yet the hammer can shape it much more easily than it can
cold metal. 1,700 �F is more than enough to soften and weaken structural

Critics of the official WTC explanation owe it to themselves to read the
March 2005 _Popular Mechanics_ cover story,[1] so that their critiques are
at least grounded in good science, rather than endlessly repeating
half-understood inaccuracies. This goes in the �evolution is only a
theory� category.


[1] �9/11: Debunking The Myths.� _Popular Mechanics_, March 2005. <URL:
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html >