Eugene McCabe Field at E. 121st. Street and Park Ave In Manhattan. Players from the Young Boys Soccer League were turned away from their home field by the police early this morning who feared the crane might collapse on the soccer field.
A fire completely gutted the engine needed to operate the crane.
By Geoffrey Croft
A fire gutted a $ 5 million dollar construction crane late night in Harlem rendering it completely inoperable causing fear that it may collapse. The fire destroyed the mechanicals needed to operate the crane which left the boom stuck, a rig Bay Crane company employees said was capable of lifting 400 tons.
An officer from the NYPD's Arson and Explosion Squad removing evidence from the scene at Park Avenue and 121st Street.
Officials are looking into whether the fire was set deliberately. A gas can was found nearby according to multiple sources at the scene. An officer from the NYPD's Arson and Explosion Squad was observed removing evidence from the scene.
When asked if the evidence bags contained a gas can the officer replied, "The incident is under investigation."
The Fire Department responded to a call of a "Crain on Fire" just before 11:30pm last night. Twelve units - approximately 65 firefighters responded to the blaze which took approximately 20 minutes to get under control according to a FDNY official. The fire consisted of a combination of fuel, oil and melted fiberglass. Area residents said fire and smoke could be seen for more than an hour. Smoke filled the neighborhood skies.
The fire occurred at a construction site located at 121st. Street and Park Avenue where an extension to the North General Hospital is being built.
Police cordoned off the artificial turf soccer field and surrounding streets as a precaution of the crane collapsing.
In addition to Fire and NYPD investigators, officials from Mayor's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) , The Department of Buildings, Metro North were at the scene.
It was a very expensive act of vandalism," said one city official at the scene commenting on the arson theory.
"Metal just doesn't just spontaneous ignite. It wasn't even hot last night."
Neighborhood witnesses said the flames shot 2-3 stories high.
"I couldn't even tell what was on fire," said Leon who's lived across from the field since 2004. "Flames were in the air. They went as high as those buildings," he said pointing to nearby three story structures.
By the morning Bay Crane had brought in an additional three cranes to help lower the boom and begin dismantling the rig.
By mid-morning a large section of park fence had been removed and part of the field was being used as a staging area to help stabilize the crane.
Players from the Young Boys Soccer League were turned away from their home field by the Police who feared the crane might collapse.
21-year old East Harlem resident Siaka Coulibaly was disapointed he and his teammates could not play.
The league works with kids between the ages of 7- 18 said coach Koffi who arrived this morning to see the artificial turf soccer field and surrounding streets closed off.
"We accept it for our own security," he said, "but I hope they can get the field opened soon."
The league has permits to play from 8am -12:oopm
"It's very disappointing," said 21-year old East Harlem resident Siaka Coulibaly who's been playing at the field every Sunday with the league since he was 14.
"The police told us we can't use it because the crane might fall."
Stuck Crane. Eugene McCabe Field on the left and the North General Hospital construction site on the right. Marcus Garvey Park is in the background.