Damage to Pentagon includes recently renovated Wedge 1

Damage to Pentagon includes recently renovated Wedge 1

Firefighters battle the fire in the Pentagon resulting from the crash of a hijacked airliner.

The hijacked commercial jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon heliport area last week damaged a section that recently reopened after more than three years of costly renovations.

Part of Wedge 1, designed like a modern office building and reopened in April, was affected by Tuesday morning's crash, ac-cording to Defense Department officials. The number of fatalities and injuries, and the extent of damage to the building, was unknown at press time.

'We're doing damage assessments that will begin this morning and take several weeks,' Air Force Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski said Wednesday.

A Defense spokeswoman added that although Wedge 1 was hit, the stronger structural steel prevented it from collapsing, as did several other corridors in the adjoining Wedge 2, which had not been renovated. The most extensive damage was on the Pentagon's fourth, fifth and sixth corridors, which house Army offices.

Damage to the immediate area where the aircraft struck and burned was catastrophic, a Defense statement said. 'Anyone who might have survived the initial impact and collapse could not have survived the fire that followed,' according to the statement.

'When the aircraft crashed into the Pentagon, it reportedly was carrying several thousand gallons of jet fuel, which caused an intense fire in the immediate crash area,' the department said.

'Reconnaissance efforts conducted overnight [Tuesday] indicate that there are no survivors in the immediate collapsed area.'

Rescue authorities began using a wrecking ball Wednesday in the collapsed section of the Pentagon to remove unstable rubble so search and rescue teams could begin work. Stabilizing the building will allow full search and rescue operations and ensure the safety of the teams, officials said.

The Pentagon was built in 1942 of reinforced concrete. It was designed in five wedges that form pentagonal-shaped rings; 'E' is the outermost ring and 'A' is the innermost.

Damage from the crash extended to the 'B' ring. A portion of the concrete from the older wedge collapsed from the impact. It took firefighters more than a day to extinguish the fire.

Wedge 1 is a stark contrast to the World War II-era building's four other wedges, both inside and out. In addition to a more modern look, the wedge has fiber-optic cabling for a high-speed backbone.

Defense had planned to finish the $1.2 billion project by 2014, with Wedge 2 renovations starting either late this year or early next year, officials said.

The revamped Pentagon will house more than 25,000 people in an office complex light years ahead of the old structure technologically, Tom Fontana, public affairs team leader for the Pentagon Renovation Program, said after the opening of Wedge 1.

In individual offices, DOD will use spinewall technology, which essentially runs wiring through cubicle partitions. The cubicle walls will carry electrical conduits and telecommunications lines, making desk connections run quicker, Fontana said.

This will be the Pentagon's first comprehensive, integrated backbone.

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