October 3, 2007
Why was there Molten Metal Under Ground Zero for Months after 9/11?
Molten metal flowed underneath ground zero for months after the Twin Towers collapsed:
New York firefighters recalled in a documentary film, “heat so intense they encountered rivers of molten steel.”
A NY firefighter described molten steel flowing at ground zero, and said it was like a “foundry” or like “lava”.
A public health advisor who arrived at Ground Zero on September 12, said that “feeling the heat” and “seeing the molten steel” there reminded him of a volcano.
An employee of New Jersey’s Task Force One Urban Search and Rescue witnessed “Fires burn[ing and molten steel flow[ing] in the pile of ruins still settling beneath her feet.”
The head of a team of scientists studying the potential health effects of 9/11, reported, “Fires are still actively burning and the smoke is very intense. In some pockets now being uncovered, they are finding molten steel.”
According to a worker involved with the organizing of demolition, excavation and debris removal operations at ground zero, “Underground it was still so hot that molten metal dripped down the sides of the wall from Building 6.”
An expert stated about World Trade Center building 7, “A combination of an uncontrolled fire and the structural damage might have been able to bring the building down, some engineers said. But that would not explain steel members in the debris pile that appear to have been PARTLY EVAPORATED in extraordinarily high temperatures” (pay-per-view). Note that evaporation means conversion from a liquid to a gas; so the steel beams in building 7 were subjected to temperatures high enough to melt and evaporate them.
A rescue worker “crawled through an opening and down crumpled stairwells to the subway five levels below ground. He remembers seeing in the darkness a distant, pinkish glow–molten metal dripping from a beam”
A reporter with rare access to the debris at ground zero “descended deep below street level to areas where underground fires still burned and steel flowed in molten streams.“
A structural engineer who worked for the Trade Center’s original designer saw “streams of molten metal that leaked from the hot cores and flowed down broken walls inside the foundation hole.” (pages 31-32)
An engineer stated in the September 3, 2002 issue of The Structural Engineer, “They showed us many fascinating slides ranging from molten metal, which was still red hot weeks after the event.”
An Occupational Safety and Health Administration Officer at the Trade Center reported a fire truck 10 feet below the ground that was still burning two weeks after the Tower collapsed, “its metal so hot that it looked like a vat of molten steel.”
The structural engineer responsible for the design of the WTC, described fires still burning and molten steel still running 21 days after the attacks.
According to a member of New York Air National Guard’s 109th Air Wing, who was at Ground Zero from September 22 to October 6, “One fireman told us that there was still molten steel at the heart of the towers’ remains. Firemen sprayed water to cool the debris down but the heat remained intense enough at the surface to melt their boots.”
A retired professor of physics and atmospheric science said “in mid-October when they would pull out a steel beam, the lower part would be glowing dull red, which indicates a temperature on the order of 500 to 600 °C. And we know that people were turning over pieces of concrete in December that would flash into fire–which requires about 300 °C. So the surface of the pile cooled rather rapidly, but the bulk of the pile stayed hot all the way to December.”
A fireman stated that there were “oven” like conditions at the trade centers six weeks after 9/11.
Firemen and hazardous materials experts also stated that, six weeks after 9/11, “There are pieces of steel being pulled out [from as far as six stories underground] that are still cherry red” and “the blaze is so ‘far beyond a normal fire’ that it is nearly impossible to draw conclusions about it based on other fires.” (pay-per-view)
A NY Department of Sanitation spokeswoman said “for about two and a half months after the attacks, in addition to its regular duties, NYDS played a major role in debris removal – everything from molten steel beams to human remains….”
New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said “They were standing on top of a cauldron. They were standing on top of fires 2,000 degrees that raged for a hundred days.”
As late as five months after the attacks, in February 2002, firefighter Joe O’Toole saw a steel beam being lifted from deep underground at Ground Zero, which, he says, “was dripping from the molten steel.”
Indeed, the trade center fire was “the longest-burning structural fire in history”, even though it rained heavily on September 14, 2001 and again on September 21, 2001, and the fires were sprayed with high tech fire-retardands, and “firetrucks [sprayed] a nearly constant jet of water on” ground zero.”
Indeed, “You couldn’t even begin to imagine how much water was pumped in there,” said Tom Manley of the Uniformed Firefighters Association, the largest fire department union. “It was like you were creating a giant lake.”
See also witness statements at the beginning of this video.
For one explanation of why there was molten metal under ground zero for months after 9/11, see this paper. Also see this essay showing that the post-collapse temperatures under Building 7 were very similar to those under Buildings 1 and 2, even though Buildings 1 and 2 were much higher.