NIST: Fire, Not Explosions, Brought Down Building 7


ERIC LIPTON
The New York Times
August 21, 2008

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — Fires in the 47-story office tower at the edge of the World Trade Center site undermined floor beams and critical structural columns, federal investigators concluded Thursday, as they attempted to curb still-rampant speculation that explosives or fuel fires were responsible for the building’s collapse of Sept. 11, 2001.

The long-delayed report by engineers here at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in suburban Washington is intended to solve one of still lingering central questions about the 2001 attacks: Why did 7 World Trade Center fall, if it was not hit by an airplane.

“Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support column to fail,” said Shyam Sunder, the lead investigator. “Video and photographic evidence combined with detailed computer simulations show that neither explosives nor fuel oils played a role in the collapse that brought the building down.”

No one died when 7 World Trade Center fell, nearly seven hours after the twin towers came down. But the collapse of the adjacent tower — once home to branch offices of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service and to the Giuliani administration’s emergency operations center — is cited in hundreds of books and Internet sites as perhaps the most compelling evidence that an insider secretly planted explosives, intentionally destroying the tower.

It is the first skyscraper in modern times to collapse primarily as a result of a fire.

Mainstream engineers and government officials have rejected the speculation as ridiculous. But national polls have shown that perhaps as many as 1 in 7 Americans believe that the destruction of the World Trade Center towers was an inside job.

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