FIRE chief Jay Jonas was desperately making an attempt to rescue a terrified girl from the World Commerce Middle on 9/11 when one of many Twin Towers collapsed on prime of him.

Jay, his crew and bookkeeper Josephine Harris had been trapped between the second and fourth flooring in a stairwell as metal, concrete and mud got here crashing down round them.


Hero fireplace crew chief Jay Jonas[/caption]

Firemen survey the smouldering stays of New York’s Twin Towers

For 4 hours he feared they might not get out alive as ­rescuers battled to succeed in them.

However immediately, in an unique interview with The Solar on Sunday to mark the 20th anniversary of the assault, Jay describes the second he lastly noticed the New York skyline once more.

Recalling poking his head out from the rubble, he mentioned: “I seemed up and I may see a sliver of blue sky.

“I mentioned, ‘Guys, there was once 106 flooring over our heads — now I see sunshine. I believe we’re on prime of the World Commerce Middle’.

“I couldn’t consider what I used to be ­seeing. I noticed what was left of the facade of the outside of the World Commerce Middle. It was eerie.

“You might see smoke and an unlimited rubble area. It seemed like we simply acquired bombed.”

On the morning of September 11 2001, 4 co-ordinated terrorist assaults had been unleashed by Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda. Virtually 3,000 folks had been killed and greater than 6,000 others had been injured.

There have been 2,606 deaths within the World Commerce Middle alone however amazingly, the fireplace chief was not considered one of them

He survived as a result of he and his crew had been slowly coaxing ­terrified Josephine down the steps of the North Tower.

She had fallen to the ground on the fourth storey and had been refusing to maneuver.

All the things above the fifth and under the second flooring was ­fully destroyed.

The hearth chief, 63, mentioned: “If she hadn’t fallen on the fourth flooring, we most likely wouldn’t have survived.

“I see the movies of the World Commerce Middle collapsing and I simply shake my head as a result of firemen don’t survive one-storey storage collapses, not to mention 110-storey buildings.

“It’s nearly not plausible, despite the fact that I lived by means of it.

“Josephine survived due to us — but when we hadn’t stopped along with her on the fourth flooring we might have been in a foul spot. We saved her life, however she could have saved ours. She was our guardian angel.”

Jay was working for the New York Metropolis Hearth Division’s Ladder ­Firm Six in Chinatown, a mile from the World Commerce Middle, and was having breakfast in his firehouse when the primary airplane roared low throughout the Manhattan skyline.

Josephine survived due to us – We saved her life, however she could have saved ours. She was our guardian angel.

Jay Jonas

5 terrorists had hijacked American Airways Flight 11 out of Boston and crashed it into the North Tower at 8.46am.

The chief jumped into his fireplace truck along with his firm to move throughout city.

He mentioned: “As we had been going throughout Manhattan, there was a panoramic view of the skyline and you might see the North Tower with giant gaping holes in it.

“Hearth and smoke was popping out. It was a little bit overwhelming — you needed to calm your self down.

“I had nearly 22 years on the fireplace division however I had by no means seen or skilled something like this.”

The crew parked near the ­blazing North Tower and ran in direction of the doorway as a bit of the ­constructing struck their automobile.

Jay mentioned: “We noticed two badly burned folks on the bottom.

“They had been within the elevators when the airplane hit and vapours from the jet gas went down the elevator shaft and ignited.”

At 9.03am he noticed a black shadow and heard a loud explosion — United Airways Flight 175 had simply crashed into the South Tower.

He mentioned: “We knew then we had been at struggle however we didn’t know with who.

I used to be terrified. It was like watching an outdated Frankenstein film. You’re ready for the monster to come out at any time. It’s coming for you.

Jay Jonas

“The foyer went quiet. One fireman seemed up and mentioned, ‘We could not stay by means of immediately’. We took the time to shake one another’s palms and need one another good luck.”

He instructed his crew of 5 firefighters to climb the North Tower on a heroic search and rescue mission.

Chief Jonas mentioned: “The very last thing I instructed them was, ‘They’re making an attempt to kill us, boys. Let’s go’.

“To their credit score all of them mentioned, ‘Alright Cap, we’re with you’.”

They had been making an attempt to get to the 96th flooring, the place the ­Boeing 767 had hit, every with 100lb of kit on their again.

As they made their ascent, a stream of ­survivors shouted ­encouragement to the primary responders going the opposite approach.

Reaching the 27th flooring, they heard a loud noise outdoors and the constructing swayed violently forwards and backwards, making it laborious to remain on their toes.

He mentioned: “The South Tower had simply collapsed. We knew what that meant.

“I used to be terrified. It was like watching an outdated Frankenstein film. You’re ready for the monster to come out at any time. It’s coming for you.”

The chief instructed his males to depart the constructing and noticed different acts of heroism as he made his approach down the North Tower.

It was across the 20th flooring that Jay and his crew bumped into 59-year-old Josephine, a bookkeeper for the Port Authority of New York, crying in a doorway.

Each second wasted was one second nearer to us not getting out.

Jay Jonas

She had walked down from the 73rd flooring however was having hassle taking the steps as a result of an outdated harm — so one of many firefighters put his arm round her and commenced ­serving to her.

Jay mentioned: “Each second wasted was one second nearer to us not getting out.

However I checked out her and he or she was distraught. We needed to carry her with us, however our descent was drastically slowed. We took turns comforting her. We’re used to calamity, she was not.

“The entire time my abdomen is in a knot. We get to the tenth flooring and I’m beginning to permit myself the posh of pondering, ‘Jeez, we would make it outta right here’.

“I began being emboldened — till we make it to the fourth flooring and Josephine falls to the ground and begins yelling at us to depart her alone.”

As an alternative of leaving Josephine, Chief Jonas broke into a close-by workplace to search for a chair to hold her on. However then the constructing began to break down.

He mentioned: “I dived for the ground. Each time a flooring would hit one other, there was an amazing vibration.

“Because the collapse acquired nearer, the vibrations turned extra violent and it was louder. You might hear the sound of twisting metal in all places.

“It additionally created tornado-like winds and we had been being pummelled by particles because the constructing got here down

“Then it stopped and we had been in full darkness. We had been coughing and gagging or pulling particles out of our mouths, eyes, ears and noses.”

Jay gave a roll name — his 5 crew members and Josephine had all ­survived with minor accidents.

I mentioned to everybody, ‘Look, we ­survived. We’re not solely going residence. We’re going residence immediately’.

Jay Jonas

They had been entombed within the stairwell and had no purpose to consider the entire constructing had collapsed — as a result of they had been alive. However they might not keep it up down the stairwell, which was blocked by particles.

Jay mentioned: “We had been hampered by lack of visibility. We had been inhaling all this mud and smoke.

“I got here to the realisation that I’d higher put out a mayday myself.

“I mentioned to everybody, ‘Look, we ­survived. We’re not solely going residence. We’re going residence immediately’.”

Whereas they had been trapped, different explosions went on round them. The chief mentioned: “Mike Meldrum, my senior man, rolled his physique on prime of Josephine to protect her from the particles.

“She cried out that she was scared. I mentioned, ‘Look, we’re all a little bit scared. Simply grasp in there’. And he or she did.”

Chief Jonas was promoted to ­battalion chief 5 days after 9/11.

The daddy of three is now chief of the FDNY’s seventh Division within the Bronx.

He and Josephine stored in contact for years after 9/11, sharing levels and parades collectively.

She died in 2011 after struggling a coronary heart assault.

Jay added: “Her final act was to name the fireplace division as a result of she knew she was having a coronary heart assault. She was a courageous woman.

“All the things that was good about being a fireman was on show that day.

“Everyone was scared however they went to work anyway.”

Head to head with evil

THE daughter of the one policewoman killed on 9/11 has revealed how she stared into the eyes of the fear assault’s alleged mastermind.

Patricia Smith – two years outdated when her mum Moira died – flew to Guantanamo Bay for pre-trial hearings of ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 4 different al-Qaeda plotters in 2017 along with her dad Jim, 60, additionally an ex-NYPD cop.

The 22-year-old athletics coach, who lives in New Orleans, instructed The Solar on Sunday: “It was troublesome. Being there and listening to them communicate was one thing that you’re not ready for.”

Moira, 38, died within the collapse of the South Tower after main dealer Edward Nicholls away so he could possibly be handled for a head wound.

The trial of the 5 plotters has been held up.

Survivors – fireplace chief Jay is reunited with Josephine
Allsport – Getty

A fiery blast rocks New York’s World Commerce Middle after being hit by two planes on September 11, 2001[/caption]


Smoke and particles billow from the World Commerce Middle North Tower because it collapses within the 2001 assault[/caption]