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Local firefighters sawed and jackhammered Thursday on the battered girders from the World Trade Center wreckage planned as the centerpiece of Napa’s 9/11 Memorial Garden.

When the emotionally symbolic pieces of steel arrived in Napa earlier this year, they were still encrusted with pieces of concrete and dangling rebar from the fallen New York skyscrapers.

From aesthetic and safety perspectives, these concrete and rebar appendages presented problems, explained Napa sculptor Gordon Huether, who is donating his services to design the memorial and the girder centerpiece.

On Thursday, several dozen firefighters from the Napa Fire Department and Napa County/CalFire used assorted pneumatic, electric and hydraulic tools to roughly clean 10 tons of steel of debris. 

This was an invaluable exercise for the firefighters, said Napa Fire Capt. Jarrett Anderson. These power tools would be needed in a major earthquake to free people trapped in buildings or in other situations where buildings have collapsed, he said.

The concrete chunks removed from the World Trade Center beams will be incorporated into the 9/11 memorial planned for Napa Creek between Main Street and Kohl’s department store, Anderson said.

The future memorial site will be dedicated Sept. 11 at 11:30 a.m.  Sponsors plan to mount a public fundraising campaign so that the memorial can be built by next spring.

The memorial will feature a sculpture of four 24-foot steel girders and glass panels bearing the names of those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The sculpture will be surrounded by a garden where people can sit in contemplation.

Two shorter beams from the World Trade Center will mark the garden’s entrance.

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