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Smoky Fire on 93d Floor of World Trade Center Leaves 2 Injured

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Kristin Moore
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« on: April 10, 2011, 01:43:32 am »

Smoky Fire on 93d Floor of World Trade Center Leaves 2 Injured
Published: November 20, 1991

A smoky fire in an electrical shaft on the 93d floor of One World Trade Center forced the evacuation of several floors near the top of the 107-story tower yesterday and left two people injured, officials said.

But for many in the huge vertical city, life went on with routines undisturbed. At Windows on the World, 14 floors above the fire, patrons dining by candlelight were not told that firefighters were rushing into the building. Cleaning workers five floors below the blaze were not evacuated, either, but angrily stopped work and massed in the lobby once they learned of the fire.

The fire was reported about 6:25 P.M. Fire officials said it was brought under control within two hours. The blaze was confined to a closet-size shaft that runs the full height of the building and contains cables the size of a person's arm that provide power for lighting. Officials said that the cables were burned as far as the 97th floor and that the smoke rose higher. A Surprise to Some

Officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the giant complex, said they were still investigating the cause of the fire early this morning and could not say whether arson was a possibility. A maintenance worker who refused to give his name said he smelled something on the 93d floor and saw wisps of smoke puffing from around the door to the electrical closet. Assistant Chief Edward Butler, the ranking Fire Department official at the scene, said his firefighters put out the blaze with a fog nozzle, which creates a misty spray.

Capt. Joseph Martella of the Port Authority police said one man, apparently an employee of the Deloitte Touche accounting firm on the 93d floor, suffered burns on his face when he opened the electrical closet. He was taken to the burn unit at New York University-Cornell Medical Center, where he was in satisfactory condition early this morning.

Two people, a man and a woman who were not identified, were trapped in separate elevators for more than an hour after the electricity had to be turned off while firefighters sprayed water on the cables. Neither was injured, officials said. The woman was rescued by a firefighter, Bob Wilday, who parked an adjacent elevator next to hers, laid a board across a chasm 101 floors deep and carried her to safety.

"Truthfully, I just didn't look down," he said.

Only 45 of the 150 firefighters sent to the Trade Center went upstairs to fight the fire. The rest milled around the marble lobby in full Fire Department regalia -- heavy protective coats, air tanks, thick boots, axes -- looking like a crowd at at firefighters' convention.

Some workers on lower floors were surprised to see the helmeted crowd, and even more surprised to learn that there had been a fire. Michael Guaragno, whose office is on the 81st floor, said he wished that someone had spread the news. "This could have been another towering inferno," Mr. Guaragno said. "We heard the sirens outside."
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