Falling glass and other debris created
a major problem during this incident. Virtually all
of the exterior curtain wall, from the 12th through
16th floors, was destroyed and fell to the ground.
The falling glass and debris caused significant damage
to pumpers hooked-up to the Fire Department connections.
The hose lines were cut several times and had to be
replaced, under the constant danger of additional
falling materials. The entire perimeter of the building,
for over 100 feet out from the walls, was littered
with this debris.
Fortunately, a tunnel between the building and the
parking garage across the street provided a safe path
into the building at the basement level for both personnel
and equipment. Without this tunnel it would have been
very difficult to maintain the necessary logistical
supply system and to avoid injuries to personnel from
the falling debris.The windows were coated with a
plastic reflective material which caused them to hold
together as they fell. The glass fell in very large
sections, some of which were flaming due to ignition
of the plastic coating.
The Incident Commander gave blanket approval for
crews to break windows to provide ventilation, since
glass and debris were already falling on all four
sides of the building. Firefighters reported difficulty
in breaking the thick windows, and the coating on
the windows may also have been a factor in this regard.
A pick-head axe was found to be the most effective
tool for the job. (A Police sharpshooter offered to
shoot windows out from a helicopter, but the offer