The Phantom USA Today Building Fire and the Evacuation of Arlington's 'Twin Towers' on 9/11

In a recent interview, Assistant Chief James Schwartz of the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) revealed an intriguing detail relating to the 9/11 Pentagon attack. Just before the Pentagon was hit, ACFD responded to alarms going off at the USA Today building, located a few miles from there. Yet it is unclear whether there was actually any fire. Other evidence indicates that, as a result of this alarm, when the Pentagon was hit a significant number of fire and medical units were already on the road nearby and available to quickly respond to the attack. Curiously, the two buildings of the USA Today complex were known as the "Twin Towers." [1]

In his interview, Assistant Chief Schwartz told McClatchy Washington Bureau that, after the two towers of the World Trade Center had been hit on September 11, the Emergency Communications Center (ECC), which is the focal point of all police and fire 911 calls for Arlington County, started receiving phone calls from buildings along the Potomac River and along the flight path for Washington's Reagan National Airport. These were made by people concerned about what they should do. Among the callers were the building managers at the USA Today towers, who were afraid their complex might be a terrorist target and wanted to know if they should evacuate it. [2]

The USA Today complex is in Rosslyn, Virginia, just a few miles down the road from the Pentagon. [3] It includes the two tallest high-rise buildings in Arlington County--the "Twin Towers"--the tallest of them being 30-stories high. [4]

Schwartz recalled, "Our communications center, who didn't have a lot of other guidance to give them, told [the USA Today building managers] that if they felt better, based on what they were watching on the television and the situation as it was shaping up then, if they felt better to evacuate the building, then they should in fact do that."

Curiously, Schwartz said: "Shortly after that, we had a fire response for alarm bells at the USA Today building. ... And I was actually dispatched to that building first [before heading to the Pentagon]. By the time I got to the elevator, the transmissions were coming out about the situation as it was unfolding at the Pentagon. I did not go to the USA Today building. I drove directly to the Pentagon." [5]

Some early news reports even claimed that there was a fire at the USA Today building. At 9:46 a.m., local radio station WTOP reported, "We're hearing from a caller who says she is eyewitness to another hit here in town; the USA Today building may also be on fire in addition to the Pentagon." [6] The Washington Post described reports from "sources unknown" that the "USA Today building in Rosslyn was supposedly enveloped in smoke." [7] But according to the Associated Press, "Radio reports about an explosion at the USA Today building in Rosslyn were false." [8]

Schwartz told McClatchy Washington Bureau he believed the USA Today building alarm had gone off because "people who were evacuating decided that they would pull the fire alarm in order to get everybody out of the building, and that initiated a response on our part." [9] But USA Today spokesman Steve Anderson, who was in the building the morning of 9/11, has stated that employees of USA Today and its parent company Gannett only began evacuating after the Pentagon attack occurred, not before it, as would likely have been the case if Schwartz's theory were correct. [10]

What, if anything, is the significance of all this? Was it just a coincidence that an alarm sounded for the USA Today building just before the Pentagon was hit? Could the alarm have simply been set off by someone who was panicked by the events in New York, and concerned that this building might be the next target? Or could the incident have a more sinister meaning?

A possible and more disquieting reason why someone might have set off the alarm is suggested by an incident described in a federally funded report on the emergency response to the attack on the Pentagon. The 2002 Arlington County After-Action Report stated, "Just one minute before the Pentagon crash, in response to a 911 telephone call at 9:37 a.m., the [Arlington County Emergency Communications Center] dispatched several [fire and medical] units to an apartment fire at 1003 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn." But by the time the first engine arrived there, "the apartment fire was out." [11]

The address of the USA Today complex has been reported as "1000 and 1110 Wilson Boulevard." [12] This would indicate that the alleged "apartment fire" at 1003 Wilson Boulevard and the USA Today building incident described by Schwartz were one and the same thing. What was the result of this apparent false alarm? According to the After-Action Report, "by sheer coincidence, there were a significant number of units already on the road near the Pentagon at the time of the attack." [13]

Consequently, numerous firefighters arrived at the crash scene within about five minutes of the attack on the Pentagon. Captain Chuck Gibbs of the Arlington County Fire Department arrived at 9:40 a.m. A minute later, ACFD Battalion Chief Bob Cornwell arrived and assumed initial incident command responsibilities. At the same time, ACFD Truck 105 arrived at the scene. Then, at 9:42, ACFD Captain Edward Blunt arrived and established emergency medical services control. [14]

So, at the very least, the setting off of the USA Today building alarm suggests that someone may have had foreknowledge of the Pentagon attack, and wanted to ensure a swift emergency response to it. Establishing who this person, or persons, was will be one of the tasks of a new investigation of the 9/11 attacks. Investigators will also need to establish what exactly this person(s) knew, and from where they gained their foreknowledge.

But might this incident have further significance? We know, for example, that there were numerous training exercises being held or prepared for by the U.S. military and other government agencies on the morning of 9/11. Some of these exercises are known to have had an uncanny resemblance to the actual attacks. [15] Therefore, could there have been an exercise based around the scenario of an aircraft crashing into the "Twin Towers" of the USA Today complex that was scheduled to occur at the same time as the Pentagon was hit? The confusion created by such an exercise could have led to the false alarm of a fire at the complex. Giving some credence to this possibility is the fact that, as well as being the home of USA Today, the Arlington Twin Towers also housed "several Department of Defense employees," according to the Washington Business Journal. [16]

The fact that existing investigations have failed to even consider these questions proves how urgent it is that we now have a proper, unrestrained investigation into 9/11.

[1] Greg A. Lohr, "Gannett Nails Down Dates for Headquarters Move." Washington Business Journal, September 7, 2001.
[2] Michael Doyle, "Extended Interview with Chief Jim Schwartz." McClatchy Washington Bureau, 2008; Patrick Creed and Rick Newman, Firefight: Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11. New York: Presidio Press, 2008, p. 48.
[3] Jeff Zillgitt, "Put Sports Aside: Tragedy Affects all Americans." USA Today, September 13, 2001.
[4] Suzanne White and Greg A. Lohr, "Arlington's Twin Towers Evacuate Tenants." Washington Business Journal, September 11, 2001; Patrick Creed and Rick Newman, Firefight, p. 9.
[5] Michael Doyle, "Extended Interview with Chief Jim Schwartz."
[6] Mark K. Miller, "Three Hours That Shook America: A Chronology of Chaos." Broadcasting & Cable, August 26, 2002.
[7] Joel Achenbach, "Nation's Capital in State of Shock." Washington Post, September 11, 2001.
[8] Matthew Barakat, "Pentagon Employees Feel the Building Shake." Associated Press, September 11, 2001.
[9] Michael Doyle, "Extended Interview with Chief Jim Schwartz."
[10] Greg A. Lohr, "Media Work Tirelessly to Convey 'Magnitude' of Story." Washington Business Journal, September 14, 2001; "September 11, 2001." James Madison University Alumni Association, October 2, 20i01.
[11] Arlington County, Virginia, report, Titan Systems Corp., Arlington County: After-Action Report on the Response to the September 11 Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon. 2002, p. A9.
[12] Greg A. Lohr, "Gannett Nails Down Dates for Headquarters Move."
[13] Arlington County, After-Action Report on the Response to the September 11 Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon, p. A9.
[14] Ibid. pp. A5-A6 and 1-1.
[15] "Complete 9/11 Timeline: Military Exercises Up to 9/11." History Commons.
[16] Suzanne White and Greg A. Lohr, "Arlington's Twin Towers Evacuate Tenants."

The USA Today fires are news to me...

I recall hearing of another fire next to the White House on 9/11.

Does anyone else remember this?

Another question:

There was an agency that would have normally been conducting
surveillance (via satelite) over lower Manhattan on 9/11 but they were sent home early.

Who remembers that?


This was the National Reconnaissance Office

This was the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia. Here's the Complete 9/11 Timeline entry on the exercise in question:

9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001: 9/11-Styled Simulation Canceled
An “emergency response exercise” is scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. the morning of 9/11, involving the simulated crash of a small corporate jet plane into a government building. The exercise is to be conducted by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia—just four miles from Washington Dulles International Airport, from where Flight 77 took off, and 24 miles from the Pentagon. The NRO draws its personnel from the CIA and the military, and operates many of the nation’s spy satellites. John Fulton, chief of the NRO’s strategic war gaming office, and his team at the CIA, are in charge of the exercise. It is to involve the jet experiencing mechanical problems then crashing into one of the four towers at the NRO. In order to simulate the damage from the crash, some stairwells and exits are to be closed off, forcing NRO employees to find other ways to evacuate the building. However, according to an agency spokesman, “as soon as the real world events began, we canceled the exercise.” After the attacks, most of the agency’s 3,000 staff are supposedly sent home. [National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, 8/4/2002; National Law Enforcement and Security Institute, 8/6/2002; Associated Press, 8/21/2002; United Press International, 8/22/2002]



The Eisenhower Building

Thierry Meyssan has claimed that there was a fire in that building, but I have not been able to find a confirmation.

CIAs NRO Office

You're thinking of the CIAs National Reconnaissance Office,....which at exactly the same time as 9/11 was happening(just before 9am) they were evacuated from the office that moniters satelite imagry and then everyone was sent home execpt for "essential personal".
Some info:

That is what I was thinking of! Thanks

North Texans for 911 Truth
North Texans for 911 Truth Meetup Site

I remember there was

I remember there was something at the State Department and it was reported as terrorism but it was nothing afterall. May have been some smoke. Initially I thought the State Dept had been hit but never heard anymore about it. State is about 7 blocks from WH.

911 Truth Ends 911 Wars

yes lots of "REPORTED" events....

... were sent out on the news lines that day (bldg7 going down, explosions on da GW bridge, this example, etc) a while ago i saw (not sure where though) a report that bombs had gone off @ the State Dept. , obviouslyly that didn't happen. The ? remains were these reports b/c people were chaotic and misinterpetered things, or were they reported to make people more chaotic (and less rational, hance laying the cover for the crime), or a mix of both? Could they have been reports put out if they were planning these things (sim 2 bldg 7), to further the terror? (I am w/mike rupert in that i think W was threatened this day, if they do that why not hit more than just the towers & pentagon?) any thoughts appreciated

"In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." ---- Mark Twain

Yes, I've always been intrigued

by the possibility that G.W. Bush was "psyopped" by his governor brother and father, among others.

Such a twisted world some people create for themselves.

Follow the physics, facts and logic, and don't forget the money, either.

The truth shall set us free. Love is the only way forward.

Benefits of a USA Today Building 'Twin Towers' Exercise ...

If my theory about there having been an exercise on 9/11 based around the scenario of a plane hitting the USA Today building is correct, then this would have had clear advantages for the 9/11 plotters: If any of them had been overheard by their colleagues before 9/11, talking about "the plane crashing into the Twin Towers on September 11," they could have made the excuse that they were just referring to this training exercise.


E-4B Above Washington

Cyberfossil I was in a highrise in the Seattle area on 9/11 and, given my experience, it does not seem out of the ordinary due to the uncertainty of other attacks on highrises that people at the USA Today would question authorities about evacuations or that someone might even pull a fire alarm to expedite the evacuation given that newspeople are often the last to leave an office in an emergency since they are tasked with reporting on such an emergency. This is potentially a fruitful area of inquiry but not as direct and difficult to explain under the government's official theory as the existence of the Doomsday plane above Washington DC at the time of the Pentagon attack as confirmed by multiple videos and eyewitnesses including on CNN last year. It is virtually impossible to have a plausible reason why the Doomsday plane would not have told the Pentagon to evacuate upon detecting the alleged Flight 77. The plane was not even mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report and was essentially denied to exist when asked by CNN for an explanation. See "The 9/11 Mystery Plane", an excellent recently released book by Mark Gaffney.

thanks for this post

thanks for this post. I was unaware of it. BUT i ama ware that UStoday journalists./editors were on the scene early at the pentagon, to justify the official conspiracy theory, that flight 77 hit the pentagon. This has been exposed by Gerard Holmgren in his investigations:


'Gerard Holmgren carefully parsed the eweek article, and noted that Sucherman was not actually quoted as having seen the impact -- he may have only seen the 757 pass in front of his windshield. Like Holmgren, we have been unable to access the video files.
We would make our usual remarks that the high-resolution photographs did not show chunks of twisted metal on the highway, other eyewitnesses specifically mentioned that there was no debris on the highway, and Sucherman is yet another member of the USA Today editorial staff. '

'Washington, Mike Walter, USA Today, on the road when a jet slammed into the Pentagon: "I was sitting in the northbound on 27 and the traffic was, you know, typical rush-hour -- it had ground to a standstill. I looked out my window and I saw this plane, this jet, an American Airlines jet, coming. And I thought, 'This doesn't add up, it's really low.' "And I saw it. I mean it was like a cruise missile with wings. It went right there and slammed right into the Pentagon. "Huge explosion, great ball of fire, smoke started billowing out. And then it was chaos on the highway as people tried to either move around the traffic and go down, either forward or backward. "We had a lady in front of me, who was backing up and screaming, 'Everybody go back, go back, they've hit the Pentagon.' "It was just sheer terror."
Gerard Holmgren at goes through several more Mike Walter interviews and statements. Those interviews were marked by wild inconsistencies, and seem to indicate that Walter did not actually see the "impact".

It was also reported that a

It was also reported that a gas station in Crystal City was involved in a major fire and a lot of fire equipment was being diverted to that.

Please watch my movie: The Third Tower

And an incident at Reagan Airport as well ...

Thanks Arie, I hadn't heard about the Crystal City incident before.

There was also this incident at Washington's Reagan National Airport, about a mile from the Pentagon:

(9:20 a.m.-9:42 a.m.) September 11, 2001: Firefighters Responding to Car Crash at Reagan Airport Quickly Respond to Pentagon Attack
Shortly before the Pentagon is attacked, firefighters with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) respond to a multiple vehicle car crash at the upper level of Terminal B of Reagan National Airport, which is less than a mile from the Pentagon. Captain Michael Defina, the acting shift commander, has seen the World Trade Center attacks on television and, although the airport is not on alert, he later claims he has a feeling that Washington could be another terrorist target. Although the shift commander doesn’t usually respond to motor vehicle accidents, Defina accompanies the rescue engine and medic unit to the crash at Terminal B because, he says, “something didn’t sound right about it.” He then hears a “dull roar” when the Pentagon is struck, and turns to see smoke rising above it. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/2001; JEMS, 4/2002 ] Fire Communications initially tells him that a Boeing 757 crashed off the end of Runway 1-19 at Reagan Airport. This report is soon corrected, and the MWAA is directed to respond to the Pentagon attack. It has substantial resources for this, including two foam units and two mass casualty units. MWAA has authority to automatically respond to plane crashes within 5 miles of Reagan Airport, so two of its heavy rescue units self-dispatch to the Pentagon. Its fire and medical units arrive at the crash site within 5 minutes of the attack. [US Department of Health and Human Services, 7/2002, pp. A6-A7] The Airports Authority firefighters are able to set up directly in front of the impact hole, and their foam units knock down much of the fire within seven minutes of arriving. [NFPA Journal, 11/1/2001]