what to make of "conspiracy theories"?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Feb 13 07:56:17 MST 2002

>One more question for now: Why did WTC 7 collapse? It took that building
>almost eight hours to fall. This is something that gets the conspire-o-meter
>jumping off the scale. After all, WTC 7 housed the CIA's double agent
>operations in New York (for those wondering, I got this information from the
>New York Times).

NY Times, November 29, 2001

Diesel suspected in 7 WTC collapse

NEW YORK -- Almost lost in the chaos of the collapse of the World Trade
Center's twin towers is a mystery that under normal circumstances would
probably have captured the attention of the world: the collapse of a nearby
47-story building, seven hours after flaming debris from the towers rained
down on it, igniting what became an out-of-control fire.

The 2 million-square-foot building, 7 World Trade Center, had suffered
mightily from the fire, and had been wounded by beams falling off the
towers. But experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced
high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire. They have
been trying to figure out exactly what occurred, and whether they should be
worried about other buildings like it around the country.

Engineers and other experts have begun considering whether a type of fuel
stored inside the building created intensely hot fires like those in the
towers: diesel fuel intended to run electricity generators in a power failure.

One tank holding 6,000 gallons of fuel was in the building to provide power
to the mayor's emergency command bunker on the 23rd floor. Another set of
four tanks holding as much as 36,000 gallons was just below ground on the
building's southwest side, for generators that served some of the other

"Even though Building 7 didn't get much attention in the media immediately,
within the structural engineering community, it's considered to be much
more important to understand," said William F. Baker, a partner in charge
of structural engineering at the architectural firm Skidmore, Owings &

Across the country, diesel-powered generators are used in buildings like
hospitals and trading houses, where avoiding power outages is crucial.
Partly for that reason, a definitive understanding of what happened in 7
World Trade Center is vital to investigators, said Jonathan Barnett, a
professor of fire protection engineering at the Worcester Polytechnic

Most of the three other buildings in the complex, 4, 5 and 6 World Trade,
remained standing despite suffering damage of all kinds, including fire.
Still, experts concede, in a hellish day, 7 World Trade might have
sustained structural injuries never envisioned in fire codes.

As the twin towers collapsed, large pieces of them smashed parts of 7 World
Trade and set whole clusters of floors ablaze.

Within the building, the diesel tanks were surrounded by fireproofed
enclosures. But "if the enclosures were damaged, then yes, this would be
enough fuel to explain why the building collapsed," Barnett said.

Barnett and Baker are part of an assessment team organized by the American
Society of Civil Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to
examine the performance of several buildings during the attacks.

Louis Proyect
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