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(9:04 a.m.-9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001: People in Buildings near Pentagon Concerned They Might be Targets of Attack

People in the vicinity of the Pentagon, including the managers of the high USA Today building, phone the local emergency call center, with concerns about their own safety. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 48; Schwartz 2008) The Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is the focal point of all police and fire 911 calls for Arlington County, where the Pentagon is located. (Goldberg et al. 2007, pp. 66) After events in New York make it clear the US is under attack, the phones there light up with calls from local people wanting to know what to do. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 48) According to Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department, the center is “receiving phone calls from buildings that are along the [Potomac] river and are also along the flight path for [Washington’s Reagan] National Airport,” which is about a mile from the Pentagon. (Schwartz 2008)
USA Today Building Managers Concerned - Among the callers to the ECC are the building managers at the USA Today building in Rosslyn, who are worried their complex could be a target and want to know if they should evacuate it. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 48) The USA Today complex is just a few miles down the road from the Pentagon. (Zillgitt 9/13/2001) It includes the two tallest high-rise buildings in the county, one of which is 30-stories high. (White and Lohr 9/11/2001; Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 9) These two buildings are in fact known as the “Twin Towers.” (Lohr 9/7/2001)
ECC Suggests Evacuation - The ECC has no specific guidance it can offer the building managers, but tells them that if it makes them feel better, based on what they are seeing on television, then they should evacuate their building. (Schwartz 2008) Some employees will begin evacuating from the USA Today building after the Pentagon is hit at 9:37. However, Westfield Realty, the company that owns the building, will not ask the tenants to evacuate until around 11:00 a.m. (White and Lohr 9/11/2001; Lohr 9/14/2001)
Firefighters Think USA Today Building Is a Possible Target - Around the time that the ECC is receiving calls from concerned people in the area, firefighters at a local fire station who have seen the television footage of the attacks in New York start speculating what landmarks terrorists might go for if they attacked northern Virginia. The firefighters in fact see the USA Today complex as the most obvious target, but they also consider the Pentagon, CIA headquarters, the White House, and the Capitol building to be potential targets. (Creed and Newman 2008, pp. 9-10) Just before the time of the Pentagon attack, a fire alarm will go off at the USA Today building, though it is unclear whether this is actually caused by a fire there (see (Shortly Before 9:37 a.m.) September 11, 2001). (Schwartz 2008)


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