Trove of Flight 93 personal items destroyed in 9/11 memorial fire

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 24, 2014 3:00 PM

By Daniel Kelley

(Reuters) - A fire near the western Pennsylvania memorial for a hijacked United flight that crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, destroyed photographs, ID cards and other personal mementos of the victims recovered from the site, officials said on Friday.

The U.S. National Park Service said it had completed an inventory of the temporary storage building where the Oct. 3 fire occurred and was notifying families of United Flight 93 victims of the items that had been lost in the blaze.

The fire destroyed 334 original photos and 25 personal mementos that include a boarding pass and Newark airport parking stub. More than 100 small objects donated by families of the victims were also destroyed at the site, near Shanksville, about 80 miles (130 km) southeast of Pittsburgh.

“These items are irreplaceable and we are devastated by their loss,” Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of Flight 93 National Memorial, said in a statement.

Flight 93 was one of four airliners hijacked on Sept, 11, 2001. One of them crashed into the Pentagon outside Washington and two hit the World Trade Center in New York, killing nearly 3,000 people. In Shanksville, the crash killed the 40 passengers and crew and four hijackers on board.

Most of the photographs lost in Shanksville were on loan from families of the passengers. The park service says it has digital reproductions of those images. All of the items lost were to be displayed in a new visitors center under construction near the crash site.

"For many of us, the fire represents a wrenching second loss,” Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93, said in a statement.

Investigators have found no signs of foul play or arson.

The Park Service had previously announced that the flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on Sept. 11 was also destroyed at the memorial site.

U.S. authorities have said that passengers and crew aboard Flight 93 revolted against the hijackers, thwarting a planned attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The 2,200-acre (890-hectare) memorial park features a wall of names that partially surrounds a field where the flight went down. The headquarters complex where the fire broke out is roughly 2 miles from the field where the airliner crashed.

(Reporting by Daniel Kelley in Philadelphia; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)