William Rodriguez was in the basement of the North Tower of the World Trade Centre when the first attack came and he led 15 people from the office to safety.

He then went back into the building in a bid to rescue his friends at the top of the tower, on the 106th floor. But he kept finding others who needed his help as well.

The native Puerto Rican relived it all when he visited Burnley last night to give a talk at Wesleyan House in Clough Street.

He says every talk is different but every one is emotional as he relives the horrors of 9/11.

He said: "I helped 15 initially out of the office then I went back and took a lady working for Marriott and a guy called Jimmy Barratt.

"Then I helped two people who were stuck in a lift with the water rising up to their waists. Then I went in a third time with the firefighters.

"Every time I went back in I was trying for the top and there was always something that was stopping me."

The third time he went back in Mr Rodriguez led firefighters up the stairs with the only masterkey available and he unlocked doors to help hundreds of people escape.

But as he left the building he was crushed by debris. Luckily he was seen and fire crews dug him out.

Miraculously he suffered only a cut to his knee and slight burns and spent the rest of the day until 5pm digging people out of the rubble.

He returned to Ground Zero the next day and within days his brave efforts became known across the United States.

He was honoured by the White House five times and the Republican party wanted him to run for office.

He was happy to do it, he says, but became disillusioned when the government did not investigate the attacks and put the blame at the door of Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

And he now believes that the US Government may have instigated the attacks to give it a reason for launching the war with Iraq and ousting Saddam.

He said: "If you have lost a family member you have a right to know what were the circumstances that led to the death of your loved one.

"Right from the beginning they have wanted to connect 9/11 to Iraq.

"There were explosions in the building before the plane hit. This should have been investigated and it was not. We also heard something heavy moving on the 34th floor.

"Some people say there was a company working in there but that company always worked in the South Tower."

He and families campaigned for the 9/11 Commission to launch an investigation but they are not happy with the outcome so are determined to get justice outside of the US for the families and the 160 first responders who also died.

Mr Rodriguez has suffered verbal attacks and spiteful emails but is determined to get to the truth for his friends and all the families involved.

He suffers from post-traumatic stress and says he cannot get in a lift without having a flashback.

"If I'm going into a tall building and use the lift I try to have a conversation because if I keep quiet I will hear the screams of people calling for help that were stuck in the lift as I went up the stairs.

"I don't feel like a hero, I feel like an activist.

"Why did I survive when my friends did not? I feel that I failed to help the people I really wanted to help that were all at the top of the building.

"I saved hundreds of people but I don't feel like I achieved what I set out to do on that day."

He could be a millionaire if he had sold his story but was homeless two years ago and all the funding for all his talks and travel comes from donations He said: "I was offered millions of dollars from Hollywood and deal after deal from every publishing company but I stayed away from that. I wanted to maintain my integrity."