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I was up in the Bronx working in Fire Prevention, so I had a fire department car. I heard on the radio that the towers had been hit and I started to respond in. I was able to pick up an unmarked police car with lights and sirens and I was able to weave in and out of traffic following him down there. We were going up one-way streets the wrong way, the whole nine yards.
I was going down Church Street against traffic the wrong way and it looked like a movie scene. There were thousands of people running up the street. And just at about that point, when I was probably about maybe five blocks away from the Trade Center, the first tower collapsed. At that point, because of the volume of people, I had to pull over to the side of the road because I was going to hit somebody.
I got out of the car, put my bunker gear on and I was going to head down the street. I saw 124 Truck come in. They were going against traffic, but a rig could get through. So I flagged them down, jumped on the side of the rig. The whole width of the three or four blocks down on Church Street I was yelling to the captain on 124, do you know where the command post is? He didn't have any idea, so I went straight down Church.
We got off the rig and the thing that struck me was there was rigs, ESU, EMS, fire trucks all over the place. There were was just no people there. I proceeded down Church to the corner of Church and Liberty, the scene of the south tower collapse and there I came upon a bunch of guys, from I believe it was 10 Truck, that were helping a Lieutenant Ruby from Operations. He had sustained a compound fracture of, I believe, it was his left leg, and they were trying to get him packaged, so I jumped in with them to help them get him out of there.
While we were putting him on a board, all of a sudden, you heard this tremendous, tremendous roar and I personally thought another plane was hitting. You didn't know what it was. It was just the loudest sound you ever heard in your life.
And then everything turned black and dead silent. The air was so thick you could literally chew or taste whatever was in the air. Then eventually it started to lift. I heard the cops yelling. The cops were missing a man. We were able to find him right away and then we got Lieutenant Ruby. He was on a board and we carried him around 10 and 10's quarters and then out to West Street, where we hooked with an ESU pickup truck, threw him in the back of that, got him to an ambulance. Then I ran into Lieutenant May from Operations and Lieutenant Pete Clifford. Lieutenant May was telling me that he came in with a bunch of people that were all on a line and they were strung out heading towards 10 and 10 to get some gear to try to help out. And he made it into 10 and 10, but he felt the rest of his guys must have been trapped someplace.
I reported in to a chief, got a team together of five or six guys and we circled back around onto Church Street. We couldn't find the guys right away, so we were trying to project where the command post might have been without any information. And we get into the Concourse. It was partially collapsed.
Some stores were fairly intact. There were partial collapses. You're crawling over stuff, and a bunch of uncontrolled fires. I just didn't like the looks of the situation. To the south was completely collapsed and to the west, we went as far as we could and the center of the Trade Center was also collapsed. I was about to call the search off for safety reasons when Lieutenant May heard somebody screaming and we climbed over a couple of more piles of rubble, passed fires, and we found a civilian. He was severely burned from one of the fires when Lieutenant May found him. We were able to get some water and put the fire out around him and then clear the rubble, but we needed something to cut with. So we had to get a truck in there. So we stayed with him, kept the fire away and we talked to him for a while.