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4. Jet Fuel on Outside Walls and Inside Pentagon

The explosion and ballooning fire afterwards, in pictures, is typical of jet fuel in the wings of an airliner upon impact. See photographs of jet fuel on the front of Pentagon at

4. Eyewitness Statements On Jet Fuel:

Birdwell, Brian, LTC
He was just heading back down the hall to his office when the building exploded in front of him. . . .
          . . . [He was] transferred . . . to George Washington Hospital where [he was treated by] the best, cutting edge burn doctor in the U.S. The doctor told him that had he not gone to Georgetown first, he probably would not have survived because of the jet fuel in his lungs.
"Pentagon Survivor LTC Brian Birdwell," USMA 1961 Luncheon Speaker, July 18, 2002

Rosati, Arthur
"The `muscle part' of your brain takes over and you just do what you've been trained to do," said Arthur Rosati, a member of the Pentagon Police and the union shop steward for the Fraternal Order of Police D.C. 1 Lodge. . . .
          Rosati was in a meeting when the plane hit. "I ran down the hallway and there was smoke everywhere. You could smell the jet fuel, it was unbearable," he said. "I was overcome with smoke, but managed to get a lieutenant colonel out. I went back in to the hallway. The smoke was so dense I couldn't stay. I was ordered out."
"The Pentagon's first heroes in a day of heroes," Henderson Hall News /, 9/28/01

Schickler, Rob
Rob Schickler, a Baylor University 2001 graduate and Arlington, Va. resident, said. "A plane flew over my house," (one mile away from the Pentagon). "It was loud, but not unusual because the [Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport] is by my house, on the other side of the Pentagon. Occasionally planes that miss the landing fly over my house." "A few seconds later, there was this sonic boom," he said. "The house shook, the windows were vibrating."
          "There was a hole in the building, and you could smell it in the air. It's a beautiful day, but you can smell the burning concrete and burning jet fuel."
Dead link:

Turner, Ron
Ron Turner, the Navy's deputy chief information officer, was standing solemnly at a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon Tuesday morning. He had only to turn to watch the disaster unfold.
          "There was a huge fireball," he said, "followed by the [usual] black cloud of a fuel burn."
          Turner, a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War, said the explosion was just the same as explosions of jet fighters and helicopters during his tour of duty in 1971.
          "It reminded me of being back in Vietnam," he said, "watching Tan Son Nhut Air Base burn."
"Pentagon executives bear witness to terrorist attack," by Joshua Dean, Government Executive Magazine, 9/13/01

Hahr, Matt
According to Matt Hahr, Kirlin's senior project manager at the Pentagon, the employee "was thrown about 80 ft down the hall through the air. As he was traveling through the air, he says the ceiling was coming down from the concussion. He got thrown into a closet, the door slammed shut and the fireball went past him," recounts Hahr. "Jet fuel was on him and it irritated his eyes, but he didn't get burned. . . ."
"Saving the Pentagon, Part 1: Damage Control - Pentagon Shifts Into Higher Gear," by Victoria L. Tanner, Design·Build Web Magazine, October 2001

DiPaula, Michael
Michael DiPaula 41, project coordinator Pentagon Renovation Team -- He left a meeting in the Pentagon just minutes before the crash, looking for an electrician who didn't show, in a construction trailer less than 75 feet away. "Suddenly, an airplane roared into view, nearly shearing the roof off the trailer before slamming into the E ring. 'It sounded like a missile,' DiPaula recalls . . . Buried in debris and covered with airplane fuel, he was briefly listed by authorities as missing, but eventually crawled from the flaming debris and the shroud of black smoke unscathed.
Dead link:

Evey, Walker Lee
[Walker Lee Evey, program manager of the Pentagon restoration project:] Fires from the plane's 20,000 gallons of fuel melted windows into pools of liquid glass.
"Rebuilding Pentagon a labor ahead of its time," by Peter Boylan, Grand Forks Herald / Knight Ridder, 3/8/02

Henson, Jerry
Inside . . . his office, Jerry Henson freed his hands enough to move rubble off of his shoulders. . . .
          . . . Now fires were burning closer as deposits of jet fuel ignited.
          "You could hear them lighting off," Henson said. "They would go `poof,' kind of like when you light a furnace. You could hear these getting closer."
"An anniversary of agony at the Pentagon," by Ryan Alessi and M.E. Sprengelmeyer, Scripps Howard News Service, 8/1/02

Jarvis, Will
From time spent on military aircraft as part of his job at the Pentagon, Will Jarvis . . . knows what aviation fuel smells like.
          That smell was his only clue that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon, where he works as an operations research analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
"Testimony to Tragedy," University of Toronto Magazine, Winter 2002

Kirk, Mark Steven
Rep. Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), a Naval Reserve intelligence officer. The first thing you smell is the burning. And then you can smell the aviation fuel. And then you can smell this sickly, rotten-meat smell, he said.

Mayer, Thom
Dr. Thom Mayer had cleared his emergency room early Tuesday morning, in expectation that Pentagon victims would be streaming into nearby Inova Fairfax hospital where he heads the ER staff. . . . By evening, he was out at the triage site at the Pentagon, wearing one of his other hats, as medical director of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue team. He stayed there all night and into the next day . . .
          At one point, he went into the charred opening, to check on the safety of workers there "There was jet fuel all over the place. It was very smoky, and it was difficult to breathe, even with a respirator," he said. " I saw horrifying things. It looked like the inner circle of Dante. . . . I stood there wondering, how did Dante know what this would look like."
"Washington's Heroes - On the ground at the Pentagon on Sept. 11," Newsweek, 9/28/01

Ramos, Maryann
Although it's been eight months since last September's terrorist attacks, for many of the medical personnel on duty that "horrific day" at the Pentagon, the memory of their experience is "permanently etched" in their minds, according to Maryann Ramos, MPH, an occupational health certified physician assistant for the Pentagon's Civilian Employees Health Service (CEHS). . . .
          During the Feb. 5 interview with U.S. Medicine, Ramos said she had seen a female patient before the interview who still had coughing and upper respiratory problems stemming from Sept. 11. On that horrific morning, the woman had left her Pentagon office to go for a coffee, and returned to find that 23 of her co-workers had died in the crash. "We're still seeing patients with smoke inhalation and sinus infections," Ramos said. "There was mold left over on desks. When you have a whole plane with jet fuel, there will be [lingering] problems."
"Pentagon Medics Remember Sept. 11," by Matt Pueschel, U.S. Medicine, May 2002

Pfeilstucker, Daniel C. Jr.
Daniel C. Pfeilstucker Jr., caught in the flying debris, didn't know if he was going to make it out alive. The Pentagon was on fire. "It was horrifying," Mr. Pfeilstucker says . . . Danny Pfeilstucker is a commissioning agent for John J. Kirlin Inc., a Maryland-based mechanical contracting company that worked on the Pentagon renovation project that was nearing completion September 11. . . . Kirlin Inc., among many companies involved in renovating the Pentagon since the early 1990s, was in charge of updating plumbing and heating units. Around 9:30 a.m., Mr. Pfeilstucker and a co-worker got orders to check a hot-water leak in a third-floor office on the western side. After doing so, he stepped off an elevator on the second floor in Corridor 4, ladder in hand. Suddenly the walls and the ceiling began to collapse around him. The lights went out. "It went from light to dark to orange to complete black," Mr. Pfeilstucker says. "It was so dark I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face. "Within seconds, his left leg buckled. Unable to grab on to anything, he was thrust 70 feet down the corridor and into a tiny telephone closet halfway down the hallway connecting E Ring and A Ring. All I know is that the blast must have pushed open the steel door to the closet," says Mr. Pfeilstucker, who had been 40 feet away from the plane's point of impact. He remembers shutting the door and trying to stand up, not understanding what had just happened. "I thought it was some sort of a construction blast," Mr. Pfeilstucker says. "Or maybe there was a helicopter accident." His hard hat and work goggles were blown away. His ladder also had disappeared. . . . The fire sprinklers came on as the temperature shot up. Then he smelled jet fuel and smoke. The putrid odor was seeping into the closet. "It was this odor that I can't describe, but one that I'll never forget, that's for sure," Mr. Pfeilstucker says. "It was so hard to breathe. I didn't think I was going to make it out."
Dead link:

Owens, Mary Ann
Gripping the steering wheel of my vibrating car, I ducked as the wobbling plane thundered over my head. Once it passed, I raised slightly and saw the left wing dip and scrape the helicopter area just before the nose crashed into the southwest wall of the Pentagon.
          Still gripping the wheel, I could feel both the car and my heart jolt at the moment of impact. An instant inferno blazed about 125 yards from me. The plane, the wall and the victims disappeared under coal-black smoke, three-story tall flames and intense heat.
"The day thought I was going to die", by Mary Ann Owens, This is Local London, 9/11/02

Shaeffer, Kevin
Another floor down, in the Navy Command Center, Lt. Kevin Shaeffer was sprawled by the shock wave, then watched from the floor as a roiling, bright orange ball of fire shot toward him and everything -- cubicles, desks, ceiling tiles, the building's concrete support columns -- everything blew to pieces. Flames bathed his skin, his eyes, his lungs.
          The room went dark. Shaeffer, dazed, prone on the carpet, realized his back and head were on fire. He rolled to put himself out, then staggered to his feet. He ran a hand through his hair. His scalp felt wet. . . .
          He saw none of the 29 others who'd been in the room. From the dark came groans and whimpers, the unconscious sounds of the dying, but those who made them were invisible. "Is anybody here?" Shaeffer hollered. "Can anyone hear me?"
          No one answered. Thoughts collided in his head: He had to stay alive. He had to see Blanca again. And he had very little time -- the air, already reeking of kerosene, was filling with a choking black smoke. He had to move.
"Inside the Pentagon on 9/11: Trial by Fire," by Earl Swift, The Virginia-Pilot, 9/8/02

Slater, Mike
As soon as Mr. Slater stepped outside, he saw and smelled something uncomfortably familiar. "I saw a mass of oily smoke and thought of the oil fields of Kuwait," he said. "There were 3,000 Americans killed in Pearl Harbor, this will be at least that many, if not more, and I hope Congress has the guts to do something about it."
"A Hijacked Boeing 757 Slams Into the Pentagon," by Don Van Natta and Lizette Alvarez, New York Times /, 9/11/01

Wallace, Alan
Alan Wallace usually worked out of the Fort Myer fire station, but on Sept. 11 he was one of three firefighters assigned to the Pentagon's heliport. Along with crew members Mark Skipper and Dennis Young, Wallace arrived around 7:30 in the morning. . . . Wallace and Skipper were walking along the right side of the truck . . . when the two looked up and saw an airplane. It was about 25 feet off the ground and just 200 yards away -- the length of two football fields. They had heard about the WTC disaster and had little doubt what was coming next. "Let's go," Wallace yelled. Both men ran.
          . . . Wallace hadn't gotten far when the plane hit. "I hadn't even reached the back of the van when I felt the fireball. I felt the blast," he says. He hit the blacktop near the left rear tire of the van and quickly shimmied underneath. "I remember feeling pressure, a lot of heat," he says. He crawled toward the front of the van, then emerged to see Skipper out in the field, still standing. "Everything is on fire. The grass is on fire. The building is on fire. The firehouse is on fire," Wallace recalls. "There was fire everywhere. Areas of the blacktop were on fire."
          . . . His boots were on fire. His fire pants filled with debris. The fire alarm was blaring.
"Washington's Heroes - On the ground at the Pentagon on Sept. 11," Newsweek, 9/28/01

Yates, John
Security officer John Yates was picked up and hurled 30 feet. . . .
          . . . a fireball rolled through the cubicle farm like a wave, with bulbous head and tapered tail, and as it passed, everything around it burst into flames. Cabinets overturned, partitions exploded, ceiling tiles burned and danced and fell with their metal frames.
          John Yates came to his senses to find that his death was at hand. He could not breathe. He could not see. The room was ablaze around him. . . .
          His glasses remained on his face. They were smeared with something -- unburned jet fuel, which Yates mistook for blood. He carefully took them off, folded them, and slipped them into his shirt pocket, then stumbled toward the big room's interior.
"Inside the Pentagon on 9/11: Trial by Fire," by Earl Swift, The Virginia-Pilot, 9/8/02

Yeingst, William
Just prior to the impact there were three firemen on the helipad at the Pentagon. The president was supposed to land at the helipad two hours after the impact, and so they had just pulled the foam truck out of the firehouse and were standing there when they looked up and saw the plane coming over the Navy Annex building.
          They turned and ran, and at the point of impact were partially shielded by their fire truck from the flying debris of shrapnel and flames. They were knocked to the ground by the concussion, were able to get up, go over to the fire truck, and initially they were able to get it started to call for help at Fort Myer. And then they had to put out parts of their uniform -- their bunker gear was actually on fire, so the first thing they had to do was put out their own fire truck and their fire equipment and they tried to start the truck and move it, but they discovered that it wouldn't move.
          They got out and looked, and the whole back of the fire truck had melted. So they turned their attention to trying to rescue people from the building and went over and helped people escape from the building.
Collection Story Transcript - September 11: Bearing Witness to History: Real Player (audio): "William Yeingst - September 11 Collecting Curator Museum Specialist, Division of Social History (Text Transcript)

Aviation Now
The large aircraft struck the outermost corridor (E-ring) of the five-ring building at ground level (the second floor) at 9:43 a.m. EDT and continued smashing its way through the D and C rings. . . .
          The E-ring floors above the tunnel dug by the aircraft collapsed, leaving a gap in the Pentagon's outer wall perhaps 150 ft. wide. Fuel triggered an intense fire that caused the roof of the damaged E-ring section to give way at 10:10 a.m. It was still burning 18 hr. later.
"Pentagon Attack Hits Navy Hard," by David A. Fulghum, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 9/17/01

USA Today
The massive explosion and fire fed by 20,000 gallons of jet fuel spread destruction over 2 million square feet -- almost a third of the building. It killed 189 people, 125 inside and 64 on the plane.
          Luck -- if it can be called that -- had it that the terrorists aimed the Boeing 757 at the only part of the Pentagon that already had been renovated in an 11-year, $1.3 billion project meant to bolster it against attack. That significantly limited the damage and loss of life by slowing the plane as it tore through the building and reducing the explosion's reach.
          In the renovated section outside the immediate crash zone, most damage was caused by smoke and water that poured out of brand-new sprinklers. Many of these offices are occupied again.
          But there was extensive fire damage hundreds of feet away in unrenovated areas that had not yet had sprinklers installed. The fire was so intense it cracked concrete.
"Pentagon repairs to cost $700 million," Associated Press /, 1/1/02

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