SHANKSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) — The National Park Service says while they were not able to determine an exact cause of the fire at the Flight 93 National Memorial headquarters in 2014, they were able to determine the major factors.
On Oct. 3, 2014, the fire destroyed three buildings and a number of 9/11 memorial items, including photographs, personal mementos of the passengers and crew members of United airlines flight 93 and an American flag that flew over the capitol on Sept. 11.
Investigators were never able to find the exact cause of the fire, but the National Park Service (NPS) released a statement Saturday detailing what they found to be contributing factors.
During the investigation, the NPS found plasticized lumber decking connecting the buildings and application of mulch directly in contact with combustible building materials both contributed to how rapidly the fire spread. Additionally, lax implementation and enforcement of the NPS smoking policy was suspected to be a contributing factor.
They also found that memorial items were stored in areas of the buildings that did not have special fire suppression and protection systems for collections storage.
“We are thankful to the community and the Families of Flight 93 for their patience and understanding during the course of the investigation. The destruction caused by the fire was tragic,” Flight 93 National Memorial superintendent Stephen M. Clark said in a news release. “The investigation points out many actions that either have or will be adopted at this park – actions that managers of other national parks across the country will make sure are part of their operations so that a disaster like this is not repeated.”
The NPS outlined a plan to prevent future incidents, with steps including a written and more-strictly enforced smoking policy, proper storage of museum collections and discontinuing the use of combustible landscaping materials.