SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — An art exhibit documenting the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks was unveiled Thursday night in Sacramento, and the contribution of Sacramento firefighters is part of the installation.
Firefighters from Sacramento joined first responders from around the country, rushing to ground zero in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Just days before the 20th solemn commemoration of 9/11, Sacramento Fire Department Assistant Chief Chris Costamagna shared his experiences from the days he spent on the ground in New York and reflected on the tragedy.
Costamagna was on vacation in Santa Cruz the morning of 9/11, and by 11 p.m., he had landed in New Jersey with an Urban Search and Rescue team of about 80 firefighters from around the Sacramento region.
Until then, they didn’t have information about the full scope of what had happened.
“And that leads up to standing at Church and Vestry streets and seeing two 110-story buildings reduced to 12 stories of rubble, and we weren’t ready for that,” Costamagna remembered.
He said after looking at that rubble, came a gutwrenching reality check.
“There’s no concrete left in the steel, which isn’t a good sign. The steel’s all twisted up, and it’s reduced to 12 stories,” Costamagna said. “There’s not going to be a lot of void spaces for people to survive in. I think we knew at the time that people … we were hopeful we would find and have live rescues.”
Though crews from the East Coast, who were on the ground sooner, were able to save lives, pulling people from the destruction, Costamagna said the Sacramento crew found no one alive.
“We found human remains, yes. We didn’t know how significant that was in the moment,” Costamagna explained.
Posters of the missing from loved ones desperate for answers – evidence of that significance – are on display inside a downtown Sacramento gallery.
“A Space In Between” will be on display through Oct. 11, a mural will be unveiled Saturday.
“A Space In Between”
1401 C Street Sacramento, CA
Sept. 9 – Oct. 11
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.