A two-alarm propane cylinder fire broke out on Liberty Island late Monday morning, according to the New York Fire Department. Three 100-pound propane tanks caught fire around noon Monday during construction on Liberty Island. Due to the potential risk to tourists, the National Parks Service made the call to evacuate the statue and island. Civilians were sent to a plaza on the island before ferries arrived for the evacuation. It is estimated that about 3,400 people were on the island, according to CBS New York, when the flames were first noticed. The blaze started near a new museum’s construction site, close to a future security screening building.
The New York Fire Department arrived at the scene, having tweeted about the incident around 10:30 a.m., as two fire boats were dispatched. FDNY Marine companies arrived first and were assisted with land units that were shortly transported over to aid the firefighting attempt.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. A worker, who suffered minor injuries, was doing something with or around the propane tanks at the time the fire broke out. No one else was injured during the blaze. The construction site in question was closed off to tourists and the only people in the immediate area were construction workers.
The monument suffered no damage and none of the propane tanks on the scene exploded. The tanks were approximately 100 feet from the water, and 200 feet from the base of the statue.
Some visitors were hoping to return shortly after the fire was extinguished. However, the island was closed during the event for the safety of both tourists and employees. The flames were extinguished but the tanks needed time to cool. Water was continuously poured on the tanks after extinguishing, to ensure a repeat incident didn’t occur while the tanks were cooling. Due to the summer heat, a small fire could potentially be catastrophic to both civilians and buildings.
Liberty Island has since reopened. Regular ferry service resumed around 2 p.m. EDT.
FDNY Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich explained the decision to evacuate on the FDNY twitter.
With that much propane, had one of the tanks exploded – it was would have been catastrophic. We took the precaution to evacuate 3,400 civilians from the island. There was one worker who sustained a non-life-threatening injury. –#FDNY Assistant Chief Roger Sakowich
— FDNY (@FDNY) August 27, 2018
Three-and-a-half million people visit the Statue of Liberty every year and the island has already seen a large-scale evacuation earlier this summer. On the Fourth of July, a woman protesting ICE spent hours at the base of the monument. This prompted an evacuation, as police attempted to coax her down from her position 100 feet from the ground. The island was evacuated as a precaution and no one was injured during the stand-off.