Fire, Not Extra Explosives, Doomed Buildings, Expert Says
By John Fleck Journal Staff Writer
A New Mexico explosives expert says he now believes there were no explosives in the World Trade Center towers, contrary to comments he made the day of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
"Certainly the fire is what caused the building to fail," said Van Romero, a vice president at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
The day of the attack, Romero told the Journal the towers' collapse, as seen in news videotapes, looked as though it had been triggered by carefully placed explosives.
Subsequent conversations with structural engineers and more detailed looks at the tape have led Romero to a different conclusion.
Romero supports other experts, who have said the intense heat of the jet fuel fires weakened the skyscrapers' steel structural beams to the point that they gave way under the weight of the floors above.
That set off a chain reaction, as upper floors pancaked onto lower ones.
Romero said he believes still it is possible that the final collapse of each building was triggered by a sudden pressure pulse caused when the fire reached an electrical transformer or other source of combustion within the building.
But he said he now believes explosives would not have been needed to create the collapse seen in video images.
Conspiracy theorists have seized on Romero's comments as evidence for their argument that someone else, possibly the U.S. government, was behind the attack on the Trade Center.
Romero said he has been bombarded with electronic mail from the conspiracy theorists.
"I'm very upset about that," he said. "I'm not trying to say anything did or didn't happen."
BELOW IS THE ORIGINAL STORY AS IT APPEARED ON SEPT. 11, 2001 hours after the attack
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