WTC Fire Extinguished

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

"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.

People's Daily Online ---