Journal of 9/11 Studies
August 2006/Volume 2
The Firefighters’ Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers
August 21, 2006
One of the greatest mysteries of September 11, 2001 is the collapse of the Twin Towers.
Claims that explosions contributed to the collapses were made on 9/11 and have persisted, but
studies supportive of the U.S. government’s account of events have ignored or denied these
claims. A great deal is at stake in this debate. If explosions were critical to the collapses, the
official al Qaeda narrative may need to be radically altered or abandoned altogether.
In January, 2006 an article by David Ray Griffin appeared entitled, “Explosive
Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories.” Drawing on a
collection of oral histories from the New York Fire Department (FDNY), Griffin argued the case
for controlled demolition of the towers. I found myself intrigued by the data he had used and
impressed by his method, but I decided there was room for further research. I wanted answers to
(1) Are the roughly 31 witnesses to explosions quoted by Griffin the total of all witnesses
to explosions in these sources, or are there others he does not mention?
(2) Are there witnesses in these sources whose testimony supports the non-explosive
collapse of the Towers—the U.S. government’s perspective?
I decided to read the primary sources in order to answer these questions. This paper gives
the results of my research.
I am interested, in this paper, in direct perception and immediate interpretation. I want to
know what witnesses saw, heard and thought on 9/11 at the scene of the crime. Although I shall
discuss briefly the fact that some witnesses later changed their minds about what they had
experienced, this is not my central focus.
I do not claim to have proven that the Towers were brought down with explosives, but I
believe the eyewitness testimony assembled and discussed here strengthens the arg