Oct 3, 2014 6:28 PM
Fire burns 3 buildings at Flight 93 memorial site
The Associated Press
SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (AP) A fire at the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday badly burned three administrative buildings, a National Park Service spokesman said.
All employees evacuated safely, and no injuries were reported, spokesman Mike Litterst said. He did not immediately know the cause of the fire but said in a statement that initial reports indicated "extensive damage" to the complex.
The affected buildings serve as the park's headquarters and include the superintendent's office, Litterst said. The flames didn't affect the memorial or construction of the visitors center, which are about 2 miles away on the large property.
The memorial, still under construction in Shanksville, marks the spot where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The plane, which was traveling from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, went down in a reclaimed strip mine after passengers fought back against its hijackers. All 33 passengers and seven crew members were killed along with the hijackers.
A memorial plaza was completed in time for the 10th anniversary of the attacks in 2011. It features a white stone wall, which traces the path of the doomed flight, with separate panels for each victim. There are plans for a 93-foot-tall tower with 40 wind chimes.
Officials have said they hope construction of the visitors center, which is estimated to cost $17 million to $23 million, will be finished by June. That would give park officials three months to install exhibits in time to open for the 14th anniversary of the crash.
The president of the Families of Flight 93, Gordon Felt, issued a statement expressing sadness about the fire and saying the group awaited further information on the cause.
All told, the park is expected to cost about $60 million. The government spent another $10 million for the land, which is about 75 miles east of Pittsburgh.