The Pentagon Crash

Oct. 1, 2003
At the Pentagon, no electrical workers died after the terrorist-hijacked jumbo jet crashed, but there were some close calls. Crews from Gaithersburg,

At the Pentagon, no electrical workers died after the terrorist-hijacked jumbo jet crashed, but there were some close calls. Crews from Gaithersburg, Md.-based Singleton Electric Co. Inc. were working on the Pentagon Wedge One (one of five wedges) when the fuel-laden airplane smashed into the Pentagon's western wall, between the first and second wedges.

Foreman Mickey Bell had just stepped out of a Singleton trailer when the blast threw him to the ground. Bell was nearly struck by one of the plane's wings as it flew past him, according to Singleton spokesperson Mike Ingraham. That evening foreman Bell, sub-foreman Greg Cobaugh and other Singleton workers returned to the Pentagon to run temporary lighting inside the building, Ingraham said.

Two other electrical contractors, Dynaelectric Co., Washington, and M.C. Dean, Chantilly, Va., were in the Pentagon at the time of the crash, according to John Hardy, president of Capital Lighting & Supply Inc., Alexandria, Va., a company owned by Sonepar USA, Berwyn, Pa. None of the contractors were hurt, he said.

“Where the plane hit was an area that had just been renovated by Singleton Electric,” Hardy said. “It was really lucky that was the area that got hit because there weren't as many people. Not everyone was moved in yet.”

After the attacks, Singleton Electric got things powered up the best they could in support of the rescue efforts, Hardy said. Capital Lighting supplied temporary stringers, SO cords and various kinds of wire and cable, GFCI receptacles, weatherproof boxes and drop lights.

Maurice Electrical Supply Co. Inc., Washington, was also busy supplying Singleton with equipment at the Pentagon.

“We had people on call all weekend after the attack,” said Jack Justilian, chief operations officer for Maurice. “We were moving emergency-lighting equipment and string lights and things that you would normally hang in a work area that's been under construction.”

Hardy described the atmosphere as “eerie” following the crash at the Pentagon.

“I was at the distribution center on Sunday after the attack, and Singleton Electric showed up in an army truck with an armed escort. It tells you the world has changed,” he said.

The Department of Defense announced on Sept. 15 that a contract was awarded to Hensel Phelps Construction Co., Chantilly, Va., to initiate immediate action to rebuild portions of the Pentagon damaged in the terrorist attack and to continue other renovation activities in the Pentagon. The initial contract is $145 million, but the project has a potential value of up to $758 million total for renovation of the undamaged portions of the Pentagon.

The Hensel Phelps Construction Co. design/build team also includes Shalom Baranes Associates, HDR Architecture, M.C. Dean, Studio Architecture and Southland Industries. M.C. Dean will install datacom, security and life-safety wiring in the Pentagon.

Overall completion of the entire renovation project is expected in December 2012.

Flight 93 crash in Pennsylvania shocks distributors

Pennsylvania electrical distributors near the crash site of Flight 93 do not expect that their businesses will see much direct impact from the crash of the hijacked plane in rural southwest Pennsylvania because the plane had not crashed into any building or disrupted any electrical systems on the ground.

“It hasn't affected us much other than the increase in security,” said Lee Hite, president of The Hite Co., Altoona, Pa., which has a branch eight miles from the crash site in Somerset, Pa.

At the time of the crash, Hite said, “It's an FAA situation. They're not letting anyone in. It's very guarded.”

Hite said security at the Johnstown and Altoona, Pa., airports had increased, and that the FAA brought most of its own supplies into the area for the investigation.

Bob Vanyo, president of Utiliserve, Somerset, Pa., said his company also has not been directly involved with the recovery efforts and that several of Utiliserve's warehouse people live near the crash site, and one worker had to evacuate his home because debris landed in his backyard.

Roy Haley, president of WESCO Distribution Inc., Pittsburgh, also said the company's Johnstown branch did not see any significant increase in business, but the crash site may have required some limited special-purpose materials.