Often the Twin Towers are referred to as the "World Trade Center (WTC)", but the WTC was actually seven buildings of varying height, but the highest were the Twin Towers and in a way, really brought the whole thing together. In any case, it is gone now, but theories persist as to what really happened, and this page addresses the most common and popular of those theories related to the Twin Towers.
The first hijacked plane crashed through the 94th to the 98th floors of the North Tower and the second jet slammed into the 78th to 84th floors of the South Tower. The impact and ensuing fires disrupted elevator services in both buildings. Plus, the lobbies of both buildings were visibly damaged before the towers collapsed. It is impossible that the impact of the jet caused such widespread damage 80 stories below. It is obvious and irrefutable that other explosives had already been detonated in the lower levels of tower one at the same time as the plane crash.
A FEMA 2005 study of the World Trade Center and its collapse, released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a branch of the US Department of Commerce reveals that plane debris sliced through the various utility shafts -- such as elevators and stairs -- of the towers' cores, creating a conduit for burning jet fuel and thus burning fires throughout the building.
It goes without saying that burning jet fuel traveling down elevator shafts and various other services areas would have caused disruption of elevators and extensive damage to the lobbies. First person testimony of the events stated that "some elevators slammed right down [to the ground floor]. The doors cracked open on the lobby floor and flames came out and people died."
This research and testimony, I believe, is enough proof needed. It does not take an engineer to know that gravity pulls things down, that includes jet fuel. While I do like to go in depth on subjects, I do not have much else to say about this. You do not see this claim much anymore, but I thought I would cover it anyway.
Loose Change 2nd Edition:
Chief Palmer had reached the fire on the 78th floor of the South Tower, and devised a plan to put it out. He describes "two isolated pockets of fire", and requests two lines (hoses) to knock it down.
If the 78th floor was a "raging inferno" like the government would have us believe, then Palmer wouldn't have gotten as far as he did, and certainly wouldn't have been able to put it out with two fire hoses.
The above claim made by the film is based on recordings of radio messages from the New York Fire Department Chief Orio J Palmer, who was climbing the south stairway in the South Tower. Here is the whole portion.
Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven to Battalion Seven Alpha."
"Freddie, come on over. Freddie, come on over by us."
Battalion Seven Chief: "Battalion Seven ... Ladder 15, we've got two isolated pockets of fire. We should be able to knock it down with two lines. Radio that, 78th floor numerous 10-45 Code Ones."
Ladder 15: "What stair are you in, Orio?"
Battalion Seven Aide: "Seven Alpha to lobby command post."
Ladder 15: "Fifteen to Battalion Seven."
Battalion Seven Chief: "... Ladder 15."
Ladder 15: "Chief, what stair you in?"
Battalion Seven Chief: "South stairway Adam, South Tower."
Ladder 15: "Floor 78?"
Battalion Seven Chief: "Ten-four, numerous civilians, we gonna need two engines up here."
Ladder 15: "Alright ten-four, we're on our way."
So while the quote is true that he did only see "two isolated pockets of fire" at this point, there is no proof that there was not other fires. Not to sound mocking, but I doubt Orio J Palmer had X-Ray vision, could see through walls and the like. The theory, based on transcripts, in no way proves that the fire was much weaker than claimed. Regardless, the NIST did not claim that the 78th floor was a "raging inferno". In fact the NIST fire reconstruction report says "there was only light fire activity on the 78th floor".
Pictures of the South Tower show that the floor was at the base of the fire-affected area. You can click the pictures for a larger image.
Some defenders of the official story have claimed that the fires were indeed very big, turning the buildings into "towering infernos." But all the evidence counts against this claim, especially with regard to the south tower, which collapsed first. This tower was struck between floors 78 and 84, so that region is where the fire would have been the biggest. And yet Brian Clark, a survivor, said that when he got down to the 80th floor: "You could see through the wall and the cracks and see flames . . . just licking up, not a roaring inferno, just quiet flames licking up and smoke sort of eking through the wall." Likewise, one of the fire chiefs who had reached the 78th floor found only "two isolated pockets of fire."
The 80th floor was not the worst affect by fire as you can see in the photographs above. Where is the evidence that he was referring to the 80th floor? Here is Brian Clark's account as told to the BBC:
Brian Clark: So we started down that stairway and we only went three floors. There was a group of seven of us, myself and six others. We met two people that had come up from the floor 80, a heavy set woman and, by comparison, a rather frail male. She said stop, stop, you've got to go up and she labored up to join us moving very slowly, she was such a big woman. She said you've got to go, you've got to go up, you can't go down, there's too much smoke and flame below.
Narrator: Clark then heard cries for help coming from an office nearby. It was banker Stanley Praimnath. Clark pulled him free and together they carried on down the tower, but their progress was hampered by one of the things that was meant to protect them: the fireproof drywall.
Brian Clark: Drywall had been blown off the wall and was lying on, you know propped up against the railing here and, and we had to move it, shovel it aside. You could see through the wall and the cracks and see flames just, just licking up, not a roaring inferno, just quiet flames licking up and smoke sort of eking through the wall.
As seen above he started on the 84th floor, came to the 81st floor, and then heard cries for help and freed Stanley Praimnath. They "carried on down", then ran into an obstruction, but he does not say which floor this happened on. There is another account that gives some insight into this:
I guess it took me 30 seconds to a minute to get most of the stuff away from the trapped person, until this last thing we couldn't move. That's when I encouraged him to do the jumping. I reached over the top and I looked at him and I said, "You must jump. You've got to jump out of there." He jumped once and I couldn't connect with him. He jumped again and I grabbed him. I pulled him over the top and we fell in a heap and hugged. I said, "I'm Brian," and he said, "I'm Stanley," and we made our way back to the stairs.
They started down:
Some of the firewall, or maybe it had come from ceilings, I don't know, had blown in on the stairs. Sheets were lying, or leaning on angle up against the railing. So we had to move those. Some were lying on the stairs. Water seemed to be dribbling out somewhere, I don't know where, and making the stairs wet. And it was running sometimes on this drywall that was lying flat on the stairs making it like a slide. So we had to be very careful. We were holding onto the railing, hand-over-hand, kind of going down those slippery areas because we were standing on slippery drywall.
Somewhere around the 77th floor, the stairway walls were cracked, and you could look through the cracks and see flames. They were just quietly licking up, not a roaring inferno. And there was some smoke there, but again I think the stairs were pressurized, pushing the air out so we had less smoke in the stairway than you might imagine.
"Somewhere around the 77th floor" shows that the fires were not seen on the 80th floor, there is no mention of the 80th floor at all. The fact that Brian Clark saw no "inferno" on any of those floors does not tell us anything new, but it does not show there was not a larger fire stories above them.
Black smoke can be see in photographs and video of the World Trade Center. When there is black smoke, it means that the fires are oxygen-starved and can easily be controlled.
I am not sure how this conclusion is reached, considering there is no rule that black smoke means oxygen starved fire. Large fires involving plastics also create black smoke. Experienced fire investigator John J Lentini does not back up the claim that black smoke shows a lack of oxygen, nor that you can tell much about a fire from the color of the smoke.
While it is true that flammable liquids produce black smoke, so does any petroleum-based product. The color of the initial flame and smoke might have been important in the 1940s and 1950s when our furniture was made of cotton and wood, but most furniture today is made of nylon, polyester, and polyurethane. Even wood fires, deprived of oxygen, will produce black smoke.
According to NFPA 921, Paragraph 3.6:
"Smoke color is not necessarily an indicator of what is burning. While wood smoke from a well ventilated or fuel controlled wood fire is light colored or gray, the same fuel under low-oxygen conditions, or ventilation-controlled conditions in a post-flashover fire can be quite dark or black. Black smoke can also be produced by the burning of other materials including most plastics or ignitable liquids."
Light smoke may indicate that there are no petroleum products burning. Black smoke indicates nothing meaningful.
So, as you can see, smoke color really indicates nothing. If one burns a plastic chair -- as I have -- one will see the flames will also be very dark, perhaps even black. A tall office building filled with plastic computers, desks, chairs, shelves, and countless other items will naturally burn a dark, black color.
The editor of Fire Engineering wrote an editorial saying structural damage and fire alone weren't enough to bring down the WTC. This has been said in a verity of places, here one quote:
"Red flags have been raised and a theory has emerged that the damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel was not enough to bring down the towers," said Manning. "Based on the incident's magnitude alone, s full throttle, fully researched forensic investigation is imperative, but that is impossible now since the government conveniently discarded the evidence."
The quote above is taken out of context. It was published before the 9/11 Commission Report in January 2002. A reader's letter a few issues later took issue with Manning's comments, and Manning subsequently wrote an editorial welcoming the NIST investigation. Nonetheless, the quote is still misleading because the other parts of the paragraph have been removed by the conspiracy theorists, here is the full paragraph:
However, respected members of the fire protection engineering community are beginning to raise red flags, and a resonating theory has emerged: The structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers. Rather, theory has it, the subsequent contents fires attacking the questionably fireproofed lightweight trusses and load-bearing columns directly caused the collapses in an alarmingly short time. Of course, in light of there being no real evidence thus far produced, this could remain just unexplored theory.
Subsequent Fire Engineering articles shed some light on the magazine's position. An example being that they ran a detailed report later supporting the "fire-induced" claim. And In 2003 they produced an article suggesting that the collapse was in part due to overly-relaxed building codes.
The Towers, Fire-Induced Collapse and the Building Codes
Scheurman explains that the buildings' failures were in part due to fire codes that had been too far relaxed when the city of New York revised them in 1968. " The city is presently in the process of upgrading the Building Codes in the wake or the World Trade Center disaster, and this essay is my perspective, as a retired NYC Fire Chief, in furtherance of that process," writes Scheurman.
His report concludes with, "The World Trade Center's vulnerability to fire, as confirmed by the fire spread and mode of collapse, is partially the result of the building industry's competition for, real estate dominance and financial reward, affecting the building codes over the years. The Port Authority of New York, New Jersey using corporate and public bond financing and the governmental power of the two-state agency to sidestep the already weakened, city building code requirements effectively reduced the fire resistance and suppression capabilities and collapse resistance, in the Towers. The Government should disqualify itself from competing in the real estate industry and concentrate on regulating the competition between developers to assure fire safe building construction standards and the life safety of the people. The actual fire is the ultimate test of codes and construction practices and at the World Trade Center Towers, failed the test twice."
And a later editorial shows the true focus point for Manning's anger, after the release of the 9/11 Commission Report:.
THE TAINTED BRUSH OF 9/11 POLITICS
BY BILL MANNING
In early August it was revealed by New York Newsday that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a month before the final 9/11 Commission Report, dispatched a strong memo lobbying the Commission for language that would cast a more favorable light on the city -- and, by extension, on city management, past and present. With respect to the hottest hot-button issues surrounding the 9/11 response -- radio inoperability, lack of police-fire cooperation and coordination, and the city's poor excuse for a new, "integrated" incident management system -- Bloomberg's wish was granted. The Commission's final report coats the three issues with a layer of political honey.
City management had almost three years to circle the wagons to deflect obvious ineptitude and irresponsibility for which it could and should have been held accountable. Capitalizing on an accommodating and docile press, they've controlled critical information, dismissed many concerns of 9/11 families/survivors groups as grief-driven hysteria, and, with great cunning, used the firefighters who perished in the Towers for political cover...
As we can see, Manning believes that there is a cover-up, however not the kind the conspiracy theorists promote. He believes the cover-up is related to politicians lessening their responsibility in terms of the emergency response to the events, the failure of firefighters' radios to carry the vital evacuation order, and so forth. A very import point when conspiracy theorists use the "damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel was not enough" quote completely out of context.