An inventory has revealed the worst fears of the staff at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
The October 3 fire that destroyed the park headquarters in Shanksville also destroyed hundreds of personal items, photographs, recordings and other artifacts, the National Park Service said in a press release Friday.
Among the pieces lost were 25 items belonging to passengers and crew who perished in the crash on 9/11, including a boarding pass and identification cards that survived the plane's impact and the explosion that followed.
“These items are irreplaceable and we are devastated by their loss,” said Jeff Reinbold, superintendent of Flight 93 National Memorial. “Nonetheless, this only strengthens our resolve and commitment to create a memorial that reflects the lives and heroic actions of the 40 passengers and crew members and fully tells the story of Flight 93.”
Gordon Felt, president of the Families of Flight 93 said, "For many of us, the fire represents a wrenching second loss. But that cannot deter us – indeed it must push us forward – toward completion of the memorial so that those on board and their collective actions will stand to inspire future generations.”
In all, 334 original photographs and 25 recovered items and personal mementos of passengers and crew members of United Airlines Flight 93 were lost. The photos had been loaned to the memorial by family members but digital reproductions of all photos were recovered.
The lost objects include a boarding pass from United Airlines Flight 93, a parking receipt from Newark International Airport, and various identification cards of passengers, all recovered from the crash site. Approximately 113 small objects and paper items donated by family and friends for the general collection were also lost.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though arson and foul play have been ruled out, officials said. No one was injured in the blaze.
Also lost were approximately 100 visitor tributes and items donated by the FBI and others that responded to the crash of Flight 93. More than 100 boxes of tribute items left at the temporary and permanent memorials since September 11, 2001 by visitors were also lost; these include decorative items, cards, children’s artwork, lapel pins, religious items, patches, and toys.
The American flag that flew above the U.S. Capitol on September 11, 2001, was also among the destroyed items, but the Congressional Gold Medal was stored in a separate facility and not damaged by the fire.
The items had been in temporary storage as curators prepared for the opening of the new visitors center and museum next year.
Long-term storage of the object and archival collection is at a high-security facility in the Pittsburgh area.
Among the items saved in the fire are:
-Three audio recordings of phone calls made by passengers and crew members to family from Flight 93.
-Of the 834 oral history interviews conducted by the memorial, either the original audio or a written transcript or both were recovered for all interviews. For 250 of the interviews, the original audio has been lost.
-The entire collection of photographs from the crash site, the investigation and recovery, and memorial services and activities.