‘Everything was destroyed’: Former Sac Metro firefighter and son recall 9/11

Local News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — On Sept. 11, 2001, Arthur Gonsalves was an engineer for Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Department.

“We were just getting up for the morning and we were at the end of our shift, and somebody said my wife was on the phone, which normally doesn’t happen,” he recalled. “She told me to turn on the TV real quick, so we turned on the TV and I think the first plane had just hit and it was just before the second plane hit.”

It didn’t take long from there before his team got the call.

“There was an announcement over all the station radios that USAR members, standby for deployment,” Gonsalves said.

Just hours after the attack on the World Trade Center, Gonsalves was on his way to New York City.

“We watched it on TV, but once we got there, it was like a war zone,” Gonsalves told FOX40. “Like everybody said, it looked like a war zone. Everything was destroyed.”

Gonsalves and a team of 84 Sacramento-based firefighters were assigned to look for victims under the collapsed buildings.

“A firefighter that found another dead firefighter, and so we helped him,” Gonsalves explained.

Meanwhile, back in Sacramento, his son Brian Gonsalves was a freshman at Sierra College and trying to start his own firefighting career.

That same day, he got the call about his dad getting deployed.

“As things happened, and they were showing guys leaving the pile and they were running away stuff like that, that’s when I started to realize the dangers that was associated with it,” Brian Gonsalves said. “It wasn’t simple and it wasn’t going to be easy.”

Twenty years later, Arthur Gonsalves is retired and Brian Gonsalves is now Battalion Chief.

“It is a full circle thing, being 20 years now,” Brian Gonsalves told FOX40. “I never would have thought that I would be here and we would be doing this on the twentieth anniversary.”

And as Americans reflect, both father and son want people to remember what’s truly important on a day like today.

“Be grateful,” Arthur Gonsalves said. “Just be grateful. Live in the moment and enjoy life.”

Sacramento Metro firefighters continue to train within the Urban Search and Rescue task force on a monthly basis that will prepare them for events like the 9/11 attack or natural disasters around the country.

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