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Flag that flew over Capitol on 9/11 destroyed in Flight 93 memorial fire

Flag that flew over Capitol on 9/11 destroyed in Flight 93 memorial fire
Smoke rises from the Flight 93 National Memorial on Friday in Shanksville, Pa. (Dylan Johnson / Daily American)

The American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 11, 2001, was one of several items destroyed in a fire that damaged several buildings near the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania, officials said.

Investigators with the National Parks Service and the Pennsylvania State Police are still trying to determine the cause of the blaze, which destroyed three buildings around 3 p.m. Friday, according to a statement issued by the Parks Service on Saturday.

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The fire started in the complex's administrative headquarters, roughly two miles from the actual memorial, which lines the edge of the field where Flight 93 crashed. A dozen staff members were on the grounds at the time of the blaze, but none sustained serious injuries, according to Parks Service spokesman Mike Litterst.

A handful of personal items belonging to Flight 93 passengers and crew, and roughly 100 tribute items left by visitors, also were destroyed, the Parks Service said.

On Friday, Litterst said nearly 90% of the artifacts related to the crash are stored off-site. The Congressional Gold Medal that is displayed at the site was not there at the time of the blaze either, and staff members were able to save an oral history collection and photo collection, Litterst said. (Congressional Gold Medals are on display at the other 9/11 sites as well.)

Much of the national collection will eventually be stored in a museum near the memorial, which is scheduled to open in 2015, Litterst said.

Flight 93 was one of four commercial airliners hijacked by Al Qaeda terrorists on the morning of Sept. 11. The plane, which took off from Newark, N.J., and was bound for San Francisco, crashed in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., after crew members and passengers fought back against hijackers in midair.

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