Three administrative buildings, including the National Park’s headquarters building, caught fire and were completely destroyed by a fire Friday afternoon at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The fire at the Flight 93 memorial broke out around 3:00 p.m. local time, said Somerset County dispatcher Geraldine Budzina, via CNN. Seven different fire departments have responded to the blaze; reporters at the scene have said that crews are ferrying in water via tankers because there are no fire hydrants near the memorial.
National Park Service Spokesperson Mike Litterst said that the fire has consumed administrative buildings, including the superindendent’s office, but has not done any damage to the Flight 93 memorial itself or the visitor’s center, both of which are two miles away from the site of the fire.
“Neither the memorial proper nor the new visitor center currently under construction were affected, as the headquarters is located approximately two miles from those sites.”
Early reports suggested that the Flight 93 memorial site fire had destroyed artifacts from the September 11, 2001 terror attacks. However, those reports have since been discredited, according to WTAE (Pittsburgh), since those artifacts are housed in a different location away from the site of the fire.
Gordon Felt, President of Families of Flight 93 (a group of victims’ families), issued a statement about the fire.
“We are deeply saddened to learn that a fire occurred at the Flight 93 National Memorial headquarters. We understand that no one was injured, and we are grateful for that. We await further details as to the extent of the damage, and the cause of the fire.”
On September 11, 2001, United Airlines Flight 93, carrying 33 passengers and seven crew en route from Newark, New Jersey to San Francisco, was hijacked by terrorists as part of the larger series of terror attacks that took place that day. Passengers fought back against the hijackers, and the plane crashed into the ground in a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Everyone on board Flight 93 was killed in the crash.
The Flight 93 memorial contains 40 groves of 40 trees to honor the victims of the crash, as well as a stone wall that traces the path of the flight. The exact spot of the Flight 93 crash is a few hundred yards away from the memorial. The first phase of the Flight 93 memorial officially opened in 2011, according to this Inquisitr report. Officials hope to have a visitor’s center completed by June, and the second phase of the memorial’s construction is expected to be completed in 2015.
As of this post, the cause of the fire at the Flight 93 memorial has not been determined.
[Image courtesy of: The Pennsylvania Rambler]