Fire hasn’t disrupted operations at Flight 93 memorial

By Andrew Goldstein Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Monica Metz said her heart ached when she heard about the fire last week at the Flight 93 National Memorial in Somerset County. But that didn’t stop her from visiting the site with her family Monday afternoon.

“My sister and brother have never seen it,” said Ms. Metz, 66, of Peoria, Ill. “I wanted to bring my brother and sister out here.”

Despite Friday’s fire that razed three administrative buildings along with many of their historic holdings, regular memorial operations persisted last weekend and early this week.

Attendance remains status quo as guests tour the grounds, and park rangers continue with daily programming for dozens of tourists.

“Everything is as normal as possible,” Park Ranger Robert Franz said. “Visitors hours haven’t changed. Down here at the plaza, everything is business as usual.”

The fire was about two miles away from the memorial and is not causing any logistical problems for the park staff or its ability to welcome tourists, according to Jeff Reinbold, Flight 93 memorial superintendent.

The fire did, however, destroy buildings holding artifacts including personal possessions of the 40 passengers and crew members killed when United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in the field in Stony Creek on September 11, 2001. A flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on September 11 that was donated to the memorial last month also was lost in the blaze.

The National Parks Service and the state police are investigating the cause of the fire, but results are not expected for several weeks.

There are no signs of arson or foul play.

“We’ve gone through and separated the building materials and now we’re focused on what kind of items might have survived the fire,” Mr. Reinbold said. “But it’s still too early to know.”

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