Almost 12 years after New York's World Trade Center towers were attacked and razed, the tragedy still seems surreal to a West Australian who found himself at the heart of the devastation.
Adam T. Perkins, who was living and working as an actor in New York on September 11, 2001, spent five days at Ground Zero, helping in the search for survivors.
Firefighters took to calling the 40-year-old the "tunnel rat" or "mole" because of his ability to crawl into small gaps and burrow beneath rubble to try to find people.
"Everybody was working together," Perkins said. "I ended up working with a firefighter called Mick from Ladder 132. I found a way to get really deep below.
"He estimated I got four or five levels below ground. It was surreal. It was very hot. It looked like a scene from a bad movie."
Now back in Perth, Perkins is performing in The Guys, a play about 9/11 written weeks after the tragedy.
It is the first time the play, which has had international success and was made into a feature film starring Sigourney Weaver, has been produced in Australia.
Perkins had just finished his studies at the Atlantic Acting School in Manhattan and had been scheduled to fly back to Australia when he looked at his TV and saw live footage of the first tower on fire.
"I basically grabbed my little bag I'd packed and went straight down there," he said.
"I just wanted to go and help, I guess."
Perkins arrived at the scene just before the second tower collapsed at 9.55am. As a former lifeguard with first aid training, he was allowed past the police cordon.
"There were people in a daze," he said. "It was a sea of ash-covered people walking up the Manhattan streets."
Perkins headed to the Stuyvesant High School where he helped at a triage centre.
"I was cleaning the rescuers' eyes because the dust was so fine," he said.
"It was just ripping their eyes up."
Perkins then joined the search for survivors trapped under rubble.
"If there was a gap or a tunnel open up that looked like it could lead to a place where a person could be, you have a go at it and see if you could do it," he said.
"I was proud to represent Australia in a sense and I was proud to be there for the US, a country I really love."
The Guys is on at the Black Box at the Crafty Swine, West Leederville, from Wednesday to Saturday.
Proceeds from the September 11 performance will be donated to a 9/11 charity fund.
Tickets are available from Trybooking.com.