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An early escape
Sept. 11 Memories

An early escape

From the Series: Napa County residents share their Sept. 11 memories and reflections series
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Smoke pours from one of the towers of the World Trade Center Tuesday, September 11, 2001, after terrorists crashed a plane into the building. Minutes later a second plane was crashed into the second tower. 

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was senior vice-president and general manager of a large outplacement firm, located on the 21st floor of Building Two of the World Trade Center. It was about 8:45 a.m. when I heard a tremendous explosion and felt the entire building shudder. Looking out my window, I saw a great deal of debris falling from the sky.

Although I did not know what had happened, I knew intuitively that something terrible had occurred. I jumped up and told my 35 employees, and a number of clients, to grab their belongings and leave the building immediately, only using the stairs. We proceeded down the stairs and saw no other people in the stairwell until we reached the fourth floor.

We exited the building less than 10 minutes after the explosion. I looked up and saw fire coming out of three sides of Building One of the WTC near the top. I told everyone who had left my office to leave the downtown area as quickly as possible. I took the subway to our Midtown office.

Still not knowing what had happened when I arrived at our office, I asked the receptionist if she knew. She told me a plane had hit 1WTC, and that a plane had hit my building, 2WTC, as well. Not believing what she said, I looked downtown and saw flames coming out of both buildings.

I did not know it then, but I would lose more than 100 friends and acquaintances that day, and my life would be changed forever.

George Mauze


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