Propane tanks catch fire near Statue of Liberty; 1 worker hurt

MANHATTAN — A trio of propane tanks caught fire on Liberty Island Monday, prompting an island-wide evacuation and injuring at least one worker, according to FDNY.

The propane cylinders caught on fire at about 12 p.m. at a construction site on the north side of the island, FDNY said in a tweet. The flames took about two hours to extinguish.

Fire officials said the blaze was located about 200 feet from the Statue of Liberty and that if there was an explosion, it could have damaged the statue's base.

"You’re dealing with 300 lbs of propane, it’s a very dangerous situation ...," FDNY Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich said, in part, in a tweeted statement. "With that much propane, had one of the tanks exploded – it was would have been catastrophic."

Tourists visiting the island and the Statue of Liberty were evacuated by ferry. About 3,400 people in all were evacuated, fire officials said.

Normal operations at the national monument had resumed as of 2 p.m., according to the National Park Service.

A construction worker was injured and refused medical attention, the FDNY said. Officials said the worker's injuries are minor and non-life threatening.

FDNY sent 50 firefighters to Liberty Island to battle the blaze, while another 50 were standing by at Battery Park. The agency used five boats and stretched a line to pull water from the harbor to put out the fire.

Monday's incident marks the second time this summer that the island has been evacuated. Thousands of visitors were cleared from the national park on July 4 after a woman scaled the Statue of Liberty in what prosecutors called a "dangerous stunt." The climber said she did so in protest of the Trump administration's immigration policy and family border separations.

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