Incendiary explosions in the lobby and in the basement levels accompanied the destruction of the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). The evidence for these incendiary explosions is significant and includes numerous eyewitness testimonies and photographic evidence. The official, government investigation conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) did not address these phenomena in any meaningful way and offered only a weak suggestion that is demonstrably false.
NIST admitted to the presence of an incendiary explosion at the concourse level and to the deaths and injuries caused by it, stating, a “fireball killed or injured several occupants in the Concourse Level lobby (NIST NCSTAR 1-7, p 73).” However, a scientific explanation was never provided. Instead, an untested hypothesis was given as fact.
“There are numerous media reports of building occupants being burned in the ground-floor lobby of WTC 1 following the aircraft impact. Numerous eyewitness accounts describe a large flash fire on the concourse floor lobby at the time of aircraft impact, that came from one or more of the elevator shafts that ran from the concourse floor of the tower past the floors where the aircraft impact took place. This observation suggests that sufficient burning liquid aviation fuel entered at least one of these elevator shafts to continue burning, while it fell roughly 1,175 feet. Even after falling this distance, sufficient unburned fuel was available to create the overpressure that opened the elevator shaft at the concourse level and forced additional unburned fuel into the lobby area, creating the extensive flash fire observed.” NIST NCSTAR 1-5A, p 80
It would have been easy to test this “jet fuel bolus” hypothesis but, as with the other features of the official account, no testing was done. That’s probably because the scientists at NIST knew that this hypothesis was very improbable to begin with.
The plane hit the center of the north face of WTC1 and all of the approximately 10,000 gallons of jet fuel was located in the wing tanks (i.e. none in the center tank according to NIST). There were 22 elevators that served the impact zone and only three of them ran all the way down to the concourse level. Given those initial conditions, a scientific approach must be used to determine what happened.
For the jet fuel bolus hypothesis to be even remotely reasonable, the following five challenges would have to be overcome.
1) The jet fuel that was available to flow down and away via openings, after accounting for the external fireballs and impact zone fires, was estimated by FEMA to be about 3,500 gallons. And NIST stated that, “No evidence or analysis emerged that significantly altered the FEMA estimate” (NCSTAR 1-5F, p 56). The 3,500 gallons would need to flow evenly across the entire, acre-wide area of the impact floors.
2) The impact damage would have had to fully open, and leave exposed, the 22 elevator shafts in the core area of the impact zone (or the 30+ in the WTC2 impact zone). The shafts that were most important would be for cars #6, #7, and #50, the express elevators traveling the entire distance from top to bottom. In WTC1, these were located at the opposite side of the core from the impact zone.
3) We must assume that no more than a proportionate amount of jet fuel flowed into the express elevator shafts on the opposite side, after traveling through more than half of floor space of the tower. This would be one-22nd of the total available, or 159 gallons. There were also 12 in x 18 in telephone cable openings between floors, however, and holes in the floors made by the impacting aircraft, through which fuel would have been lost. A realistic maximum therefore might be 120 gallons in each shaft, assuming an equal amount of the spilling jet fuel made it all the way across to the express elevator side.
4) The jet fuel would have adhered to the surface of the elevator shaft as it traveled downward. The elevator shafts were lined with 2-inch thick gypsum planking and the low surface tension jet fuel would have wetted this thoroughly. An estimate of the surface area in an express shaft is 60,000 square feet. A quick experiment shows that gypsum board soaks up approximately 0.03 gallons of kerosene per square foot. All the available jet fuel (120 gallons) would have been lost in this process before the jet fuel bolus reached the mid-point of its fall.
Therefore the jet fuel that was available to flow down and away from the floors of impact could not have reached the concourse level of the WTC towers.
5) However, a lot of damage was attributed to this impossible jet fuel bolus. Eyewitnesses stated that there were intense elevator area fires in the lower half of the building. There were fires on the 40th floor, and the 22nd floor, and witnesses said that the elevator doors on the 22nd floor had been blown out from fires or explosions in the elevator shafts. Even if a highly disproportionate quantity of jet fuel from the aircraft had somehow caused these fires and the related damage, there certainly would not have have been any left to reach the lobby.
All of this ignores the questions of how unburned jet fuel could make its way around the elevator cabs in the shafts, how it could re-accumulate at the lower level, and how the supposed fuel/air mix could become optimum and then ignite. It also ignores how much jet fuel would be required to produce the explosive energy needed to destroy so much of the lobby, including the huge windows and the massive granite wall coverings, and kill people in that area.
If NIST had done a minimal amount of physical testing to support its weak fuel bolus suggestion, the hypothesis would have been easily disproven. But that would have left people to wonder what actually did cause these incendiary fires and the ones in the basement levels. The answers to those questions would almost certainly add to the other, extensive evidence for the presence of energetic, incendiary materials at the WTC.