Here are two interviews William Rodriguez gave on the day. In both he said he was in the basement. In one, the first thing he describes is an explosion; in the other it’s a “big rumble”. In both, the first victim he describes has severe burn injuries rather than blast injuries, so the explosion was probably the fuel fireball down the lift shafts rather than explosives:
CBS via NIST – ‘Explosion’
CNN direct – ‘Big rumble’
Rodriguez also described the fireball in other accounts. On the first anniversary of 9/11 (2002) he gave this interview:
– On the subject of your friends, one of them is with you, a relatively new friend I know, William Rodriguez. If Mr. Rodriguez is actually close enough, we’ve got a mike on him, just tell the story of how — William, tell the story of how the two of you met.
– UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, we knew each other for many years. We work at the — I work at the building. I personally in charge of all the stairs, of all the maintenance of the stairs in the building. And I knew David for probably 15, 16 years.
– And at that terrible day when I took people out of the office, one of them totally burned because he was standing in front of the freight elevator and the ball of fire came down the duct of the elevator itself, I put him on the ambulance. And I came back running into the building. And the only person that I found there was Officer David Lim. And the first thing that he told me was, Willie, do you have the key. Meaning if I had the master key to the building, which I have and I still have. It’s over here. This is the key that opened all the doors on the staircase. It’s called a T2 key. And he said let’s go.”
But a few years after 9/11 I think a lawyer latched onto him and started promoting him for publicity, and Rodriguez’ story changed slightly to the explosion happening before the aircraft impact, which Rodriguez couldn’t have had any knowledge of, being in the basement at the time.
Rodriguez testimony to NIST was given in public. His restricted testimony to the 9/11 Commission might be about his claim to have seen one of the alleged hijackers:
I think this probably is what’s restricted because the real identities of the hijackers is a major government no-go area, because they were Saudi military pilots trained by the US I strongly suspect. Jihadi headchopper pilots. Headchopping is compulsory public family entertainment in Saudi Arabia.