Flight 93 fire losses included photos, other items

Associated Press

SHANKSVILLE, Pa. — An inventory released Friday of items lost from a recent fire at the Flight 93 National Memorial headquarters includes hundreds of original photographs and items found at the crash site that were linked to the passengers and crew.

The National Park Service said its team of museum experts and archaeologists determined 334 photos and 25 items connected to the plane’s occupants were destroyed. The material, some from the crash site, includes a boarding pass, an airport parking receipt and passengers’ identification cards.

Digital copies of all the lost photos still exist.

“It was a devastating fire and a devastating loss, but overarching all of it, we are grateful that there was no loss of life in this fire,” said Lisa Linden with the group Families of Flight 93.

Other items lost in the Oct. 3 fire in Shanksville include about 100 tributes from visitors and material from the investigation — items that were being considered for exhibition. The fire destroyed 110 boxes of tribute items left at the crash site by visitors, including cards, artwork and religious material.

Many other items survived the fire, including audio recordings of phone calls made by passengers to their family members from the flight, thousands of images and paper files about the 33 passengers and seven crew members.

National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said the items were not insured, and the federal government has not estimated their value.

Litterst said they were being housed inside structures without sprinkler systems while being prepared for exhibition in the visitor’s [sic] center or in temporary storage so the staff could access them for presentation and other uses, he said. About 90 percent of the museum’s collection is stored at a facility near Pittsburgh that does have sprinklers, Litterst said.

“The storage facility that’s at the memorial, that’s on site, met or exceeded Park Service standards for curatorial storage,” Litterst said.

A state police fire marshal told the Somerset Daily American earlier this week that the cause of the fire may never been known. Investigators have found no signs of arson or foul play.

The three buildings that were destroyed housed administrative and staff offices and conference facilities, along with the temporary storage for some of the memorial’s collection. The memorial and visitor’s center, under construction about two miles away, were not affected by the fire. Plans call for a 93-foot tower with 40 wind chimes, and construction may be finished by next summer.

Officials had earlier disclosed that the fire destroyed a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001, the day hijackers commandeered four planes, flying two into the World Trade Center towers in New York and one to the Pentagon outside Washington.

The passengers of Flight 93, going from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco, fought back, and the plane crashed in an abandoned strip mine. The passengers, crew and the hijackers all died.

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