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Fire at Pentagon Causes Brief Evacuation

Aired August 2, 2001 - 14:41   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We're just receiving word of a fire at the Pentagon. CNN's Jamie McIntrye joins us on the phone. while we look at pictures, Jamie, from outside the Pentagon.

What can you tell us?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm inside the Pentagon on the inner-courtyard where a smoky fire is pretty obvious. About half the Pentagon has been evacuated, because of a fire which is now out. It was a very smoky fire in an industrial dryer in the food service area here on the second floor of this five-story building.

The fire extended up to another floor. It started on the first floor and went up to the second floor. The -- Arlington County First personnel are checking the ceiling, poking through, looking through any remnants of the fire. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) taking some time for them check to make sure everything is OK.

As I say, the smoke that came out the one side of this five-sided building, you can smell out here, in the center courtyard. Several hundred people are in the center courtyard of the Pentagon; some more on the outside of the building.

But again, the fire is out. It was in a heavy industrial dryer in the food service area, and right now, the local fire department is simply going through to make sure that the fire is out, since it did extend up to another floor through the ceiling. So they're making sure everything is out before they allow everybody to return. But almost half of the building was evacuated because of the smoke really from this fire.

ALLEN: So the Pentagon being so huge, Jamie, help us appreciate how much of the Pentagon was on fire.

MCINTYRE: The fire was actually in a very small area. Of course, the Pentagon is a huge building, 24,000 people work here. Approximately, 10,000 were evacuated because of the fire. Fortunately, it's a beautiful, sunny, nice day here in Washington, D.C. So it's not a bad day to be standing outside.

The Pentagon has 17 1/2 miles of corridor in it, so it's people in the other half of the building, where the secretary of defense, the joint chiefs, the Pentagon briefing room. All of that is in another part of the building. Most of those people are unaware of what is going on, on this end, if you can imagine the building being so big, that there could be a fire and an evacuation, and half the building wouldn't even know about it.

This is on the side of the building where the U.S. Navy has some of its offices, where some of the food service areas are. It is on the opposite side of the building where the secretary of defense, the joint chiefs, and some of those high-powered officials have their offices.

ALLEN: Any idea if the area where this fire occurred was an area where sensitive materials are kept or what kind of materials are kept in that area and what kind of fire protection do they have?

MCINTYRE: This is area of the Pentagon that is due for renovation. I'm not sure if this area has actually been renovated yet. The Pentagon is undergoing a ten-year renovation plan, which wedge by wedge, they're renovating it.

As I said, it was in an industrial dryer in the food service area. So it wasn't an office area. But it did extend up through a ceiling, so it did create a lot of smoke. That's the reason -- the smoke was the reason they had to evacuate the building. And then they are being very careful just to make sure that, since the fire did spread up to a ceiling area that it's completely out before they allow people to go back in.

ALLEN: All right, well, we hope you get to go back in soon, Jamie McIntyre, from the Pentagon courtyard.

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