Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More Molten Metal Magic

Recovery worker reflects on months spent at Ground Zero
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
May 29, 2002

[...] When [Joe] O'Toole signed on for trade center duty in January, he thought it would be a 30-day assignment. But after one month, he volunteered for another. And another. And another. And another. [...] Underground fires raged for months. O'Toole remembers in February seeing a crane lift a steel beam vertically from deep within the catacombs of Ground Zero. "It was dripping from the molten steel," he said.

[...] A veteran of disasters from the Mississippi floods Mt. St. Helens, [Ron] Burger said it reminded him most of the volcano, if he forgot he was in downtown Manhattan. "Feeling the heat, seeing the molten steel, the layers upon layers of ash, like lava, it reminded me of Mt. St. Helen's and the thousands who fled that disaster," he said. "It could have been a tornado or an avalanche or a volcano."

Ground Zero was a disaster site like no other---with hazards everywhere. Shards of steel lay upon shards of steel, shifting and unstable, uncovering red hot metal beams excavated from deep beneath layers of sub-floors, exposing further dark crevasses.

Ironworkers' Job of Clearing Ground Zero Is Over, but the Trauma Lingers
November 11, 2002

[...] The four men sat on a sunny sidewalk in Greenwich Village on a recent workday and ate their lunch staring at the steel skeleton of a building going up on West Third Street. One of them commented on how much easier it was to eat a sandwich in front of steel that was strong and straight and new, not molten and mangled and laden with debris.

Reflections in the Wake of September 11:
Visit to Ground Zero, New York City
by Father Edward A. Malloy, CSC

[...] Eddie and I walked down into the depths of the South Tower, Building Two, which was the first to collapse. Large front end loaders were engaged in their task. Gigantic cranes were lifting pieces of steel weighing tons, some of which were being placed on the back of semi trucks. Firefighters atop a number of ladder trucks were spraying in the areas of greatest smoke. The average temperature beneath the rubble is said to be 1500 F. so that when steel is brought up it is molten and takes two or three days to cool down.

RICH GARLOCK: Going below, it was smoky and really hot. We had rescue teams with meters for oxygen and carbon dioxide. They also had temperature monitors. Here WTC 6 is over my head. The debris past the columns was red-hot, molten, running.
PBS, September 2002

By Guy Lounsbury

[...] My particular part was to help maintain security in and around the perimeter of the site.
[...] Two weeks after the attack, one fireman told us that there was still molten steel at the heart of the towers' remains.

At Ground Zero
NIH'ers Respond to Tragedy in NYC
By Rich McManus
Photos by Van Hubbard, Susan Orsega, Rich McManus

[...] Ed Pfister's Diary: [...] I spent several hours tonight, walking "the pile" and attempting to soak it all in for the last time and find a bit of closure...deep below ground a portion of the pile was still on fire and boiled with molten material. Sometimes, open flame would erupt as a crane pulled debris out and air rushed in. Fire hoses constantly poured streams of water causing huge billowing steam clouds to rise up over the site into the huge lights above.

Reluctant hero narrates horror of N.Y. mission
September 11, 2002

[...] Interim Bryan Fire Department Chief Mike Donoho was one of those sent to "ground zero," as the World Trade Center site quickly became known. [...] Here is Donoho's story, as told to Eagle staff writer John LeBas:

[...] What you had were large columns of steel that were just stuck into massive amounts of molten steel and other metals, that had just fused together from the heat and bonded together from the strength of the collapse.

We dug and we dug and we dug, and we cut and we cut and we cut, and we did not see anything that resembled any type of furniture, any type of personal belongings. We found some pieces of things like a telephone, things like that. I think we found credit cards a few times, and we found a couple of stuffed animals. But you would expect to see, like, a bunch of desks, a bunch of chairs. The only way I can explain it is, if you take a car and put it in one of those machines where they crush it and make it look like a cube, and you can't recognize what it is, that's what the whole area looked like. It looked like a massive, molten mess that had been fused together, like a car that had been cubed and crushed.

With all that heavy, heavy stuff, there were wires, rebar, concrete. Most of it was just steel. A lot of what we were walking on was just molten steel.

by Ben Robinson
edited by David Groves
October 17, 2001

On October 4, I was called to do an indoor street performance by the New York City police department.
[...] Turns out, after someone works at Ground Zero, their clothes are trashed, and they put on these interim clothes that are piling up in donations. The workers go through three pairs of rubber boots a day because they melt in the three-week-old fire of molten metal and jet fuel.
The health hazards are everywhere: the fire, molten metal, the lack of breathable air and 3000+ decomposing bodies. And, I'm working for these brave souls

It is 4 a.m. in New York City as four researchers from the School enter the site of the World Trade Center disaster on foot. Each is lugging from 50 to 90 pounds of air-monitoring equipment onto Ground Zero. In the dark, the tangled pile of wreckage takes on a distinctly hellish cast.

"Fires are still actively burning and the smoke is very intense," reports Alison Geyh, PhD. "In some pockets now being uncovered, they are finding molten steel."
John Hopkins Public Health, Late Fall 2001 Magazine

They came to help at Ground Zero. What they experienced they can't forget
By Marci McDonald

[...] Lee Turner, a bewhiskered paramedic, leads a tour with a mix of pride and disdain. For six years, he helped build it, corralling old culvert pipe, rusted refrigerators, and even a wrecked school bus. For six years, he and 185 other members of a federal urban search and rescue squad known as Missouri Task Force 1 (MO-TF1) had trained on it, unpaid, waiting for the call to be deployed.

[...] In the predawn darkness of September 12, barely 18 hours after MO-TF1 got the order for its first deployment, he jumped off an Army truck at the World Trade Center site and stared at a smoldering rubblescape that stretched as far as he could see. "There was nothing but acre after acre of twisted steel and this sticky white dust," he recalls. "We'd never seen anything like it."

[...] Turner himself 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–but found no signs of life.

Red Hot Debris. The removal of debris from the collapsed area requires the safe lifting and maneuvering of very heavy steel beams, often twisted and tangled from the force of the collapse. Some beams pulled from the wreckage are still red hot more than 7 weeks after the attack, and it is suspected that temperatures beneath the debris pile are well in excess of 1,000°F.


"Thermal Imagery of the progression of molten steel hotspots
from September 18 to September 25"
GeoNews, October, 2001