World Trade Center Fires Out

The underground fires that have burned since the Sept. 11 attacks are now extinguished; the flag-raising photo from Sept. 11 is becoming one of the day's most powerful images; President Bush has dubbed the day Patriot Day; the death toll in New York is down to 3,000; and security on the ground is getting tighter.

Ground Zero Fire Extinguished

N E W Y O R K, Dec. 19 —

The underground fires that have burned at the World Trade Center site for the past three months have finally been extinguished, Gov. George Pataki said today.

"Just in the last week the fires have actually been put out," Pataki told a group of about 50 elected officials during a tour of the scene.

Fire officials confirmed that the fires are now considered extinguished. The fire officials said, however, that they cannot rule out the possibility that a small pocket might still be burning.

"It is pretty well contained," said firefighter Robert Calise, a spokesman for the department. "There might be some pockets still burning, but we consider the fire to be out."

Calise said a firetruck remains on standby at the site for dust control and if any pockets of fire are discovered. He said no official time was recorded for when the fires were extinguished.

The fires had smoldered for months beneath the trade center debris, sending acrid clouds of smoke that could be smelled at times several miles away in Brooklyn and upper Manhattan.

The fires were fueled by almost everything inside the towers, from documents to office furniture. As demolition and rescue crews toiled to clear the debris air pockets would open, allowing fresh oxygen to cause hot spots to flare up.

For months the fires had required fire trucks to spray a nearly constant jet of water on them, and at times, slowed the work of clearing the site.

— The Associated Press

Photo Becomes Powerful Image of Sept.11

N E W A R K, N.J., Dec. 19 — The photo has appeared on T-shirts, buttons and Christmas ornaments. It hangs at firehouses across the nation. A mural of it was painted on the walls of a Louisiana prison. And copies were left as a calling card in Afghanistan by U.S. commandos.

The photo of three firefighters raising a flag amid the ruins of the World Trade Center has become one of the most powerful images of the disaster.

Many consider it this century's Iwo Jima image, recalling the famous 1945 Associated Press photograph of six American fighting men struggling to raise the flag on Mount Suribachi during World War II.

The picture was taken by 35-year-old newspaper photographer Tom Franklin of The Record of Hackensack, who said he instantly saw the similarities as he looked through his lens.

"I knew by Sept. 13 this was going to be a really popular picture," said Franklin, who has received thousands of e-mails from people detailing how the photo has touched them. "They said it made their day and lifted their spirits at a time of real despair."

About 30,000 people have asked the newspaper for a copy, and thousands more are using it — without permission — for all sorts of purposes.

The photo has been downloaded, photocopied, airbrushed, screen-printed, sketched and painted in homes and businesses across the country.

Firehouses have copies taped up. Firefighters in Phoenix re-enacted the image before Game One of the World Series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the New York Yankees.

The photo is taped to the wall at Attitude, a hair salon in Austin, Texas. A bartender at Sparky's Sports Bar & Grill in Sparks, Nev., wears a T-shirt with the photo most nights. The Daily Ardmoreite in Ardmore, Okla., uses the photo every day on its front page as a graphic to accompany the top terrorism story.

Authorities allowed an inmate to paint a mural of it on the walls of the Orleans Parish Prison in New Orleans.

In Afghanistan, Army Rangers and other special operations troops had it taped to their backpacks for inspiration.

David Gittings, a sewer inspector in Louisville, Ky., cut the photo out of a newspaper and has it framed on a living room wall. "That was a signal to bring everybody together," he said. "You can kick us, you can hit us, but we're not down."

The image has been named photo of the year by Editor & Publisher magazine and won the Member Showcase Photo of the Year award from the Associated Press Managing Editors association.

"It was a moment in an absolutely tragic, horrible day that seemed to rise above everything to symbolize the cooperation and spirit of New York, the country and the people at Ground Zero," said Frank Scandale, editor of The Record. "It gave people a sliver of hope in the most horrible, disastrous day any one of this generation can remember."

The newspaper is now selling posters of the photo, along with other pictures from the week of the attacks.

Most of that revenue will go to the disaster fund, and to charities specified by the three firefighters in the photo: Dan McWilliams and George Johnson from Ladder 157 in Brooklyn, and Billy Eisengrein of Rescue 2 in Staten Island.

McWilliams found the flag on a yacht docked near the trade center and carried it back to the rubble, where he and his co-workers hoisted it.

The firefighters declined to comment for this story, but McWilliams told The Record on Sept. 12: "Everybody just needed a shot in the arm. Every pair of eyes that saw that flag got a little brighter."

Franklin, a news photographer with 15 years of experience, cannot escape his creation.

"Thanksgiving weekend, I'm driving to my grandmother's house in Brooklyn and the van in front of me has two bumper stickers with the photo on it," he said. "Then on the way home, we see this two-story mural on a building on the FDR Drive. It's kind of weird."

— The Associated Press

President Names Sept. 11 Patriot Day

W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 19 — President Bush signed legislation Tuesday that designates a holiday in honor of those who were killed in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Without fanfare, Bush signed a House resolution naming Sept. 11 as Patriot Day. The resolution requires the president to issue a proclamation each year and order flags lowered to half-staff in observance of the day.

The measure, brought by the New York congressional delegation, was approved by the House on Oct. 25, and the Senate on Nov. 30.

— The Associated Press

High Security in U.S. Ground Transportation

W A S H I N G T O N, Dec. 19 — Travelers are likely to face tighter security these days, no matter how they get around the United States.

Security checks aren't just for airlines anymore. Police are pulling over truckers hauling hazardous materials. Railroad workers are double-checking trains and tracks. And officers are screening bus passengers with handheld metal detectors.

The president of a New Jersey trucking company says unlike airlines, he's getting no security help from the government. The company now requires drivers to wear photo I.D. badges.

And the Association of American Railroads has even hired its own version of a homeland security chief.

Private companies and local transportation departments have been on alert for suspicious activity since Sept. 11. Weigh stations are open later, and 15-minute checks now last an hour.

A new anti-terrorism law requires background checks on truckers who carry hazardous materials.

— The Associated Press

New City Tally of Dead Drops to 3,000

N E W  Y O R K, Dec. 19 — The city's tally of people killed or missing in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center has fallen to 3,000 — down from its high of 6,700 in September.

City officials have said there are a number of reasons for the steadily declining number: names listed more than once on missing person-reports, overestimates from some foreign consulates and families who filed early missing reports but neglected to notify police when loved ones turned up safe.

As of Tuesday, the city medical examiner's office had issued 529 death certificates, based on identifications made from remains. Another 1,977 death certificates have been issued at the request of victims' families. The rest are still considered missing.

Independent tallies maintained by news organizations have consistently been lower than the city's toll.

An ongoing Associated Press tally of people confirmed dead and those reported dead or missing in the trade center attack stood at 2,787 Tuesday. That number excludes those killed at the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania, and the hijackers themselves.

The AP list is based on information collected from the Defense Department, medical examiners, the courts, AP foreign bureaus, companies, families, member newspapers, funeral homes and places of worship.

— The Associated Press

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