No indication of arson found at Flight 93 memorial

A fire Friday destroyed three buildings and several artifacts at the Flight 93 National Memorial headquarters in Shanksville, Pa.
(National Park Service)

No indication of arson or foul play has been found in the fire that broke out last week at the Flight 93 National Memorial headquarters in Pennsylvania, destroying artifacts that had been saved after the Sept. 11, 2001, hijacking and plane crash, the National Park Service said Sunday.

“Definitive findings, including the cause of the fire, are not expected for a matter of weeks,” but the on-site investigation is complete, National Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said in an email, and park officials have begun salvaging materials.

Litterst said Friday that the fire had destroyed three administration buildings on the Shanksville, Pa., site, including a structure housing several items set to be stored in a nearby museum next year.

The American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001, was destroyed in the fire, the park service said, as were a handful of personal items belonging to Flight 93 passengers and crew and roughly 100 tribute items left by visitors.


The fire was about two miles from the actual memorial, which lines the edge of the field where Flight 93 crashed after crew members and passengers fought back against Al Qaeda hijackers in midair. The San Francisco-bound commercial airliner had taken off from Newark, N.J. Three other jets hijacked that day slammed into the twin towers of New York’s World Trade Center and into the Pentagon. About 3,000 people were killed. Flight 93 was headed for Washington, and its target was thought to be either the Capitol or the White House.

On Friday, Litterst said nearly 90% of the artifacts related to the crash were stored off-site. The Congressional Gold Medal that is displayed at the site was not there at the time of the blaze, and staff members were able to save an oral history collection and photo collection, Litterst said.

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