Fire forces evacuation of Statue of Liberty island in NY
State of Liberty (Shutterstock)

Thousands of visitors to the Statue of Liberty were evacuated from the national monument’s New York Harbor island on Monday after a small fire broke out at a construction site, authorities said.

Officials ordered the evacuation “out of an abundance of caution” after the fire erupted among three propane gas cylinders shortly before noon local time (1600 GMT) on Liberty Island, New York Fire Department spokesman Jim Long said by phone.

By early afternoon, the small but dangerous fire had been brought under control, Assistant Fire Chief Roger Sakowich said.

“With that much propane, had one of the tanks exploded – it was would have been catastrophic,” Sakowich said on Twitter.

About 3,000 visitors were ferried off the island, with some going to nearby Ellis Island which has a museum of immigration, hoping to be able to return after the fire was put out, National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis said in a phone call.

Reporting by Peter Szekely; Editing by Richard Chang