Smoke forces evacuation of Statue of Liberty

Smoke forces evacuation of Statue of Liberty,0,4662788.story

July 21, 2010 | 11:37 a.m.

(Reuters) – New York’s Statue of Liberty was evacuated Wednesday after an elevator malfunctioned and filled the area with smoke, said the National Parks of New York Harbor.

“The motor on our elevator started smoking,” said Mindi Rambo, spokeswoman for the National Parks of New York Harbor.

Rambo said it was not immediately known how many people were evacuated, but that “based on our experience several hundred would have been within the monument at this time of day during the summer.”

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“While we did have to evacuate the monument, the island itself remains open,” she said.

The New York Fire Department was on scene and once they had given the all clear the statue would be reopened.

The Statue of Liberty was closed to the public because of safety concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The crown was reopened a year ago while the museum gallery and observation deck at the statue’s base were reopened to the public in 2004.

The statue was a gift to the United States from France in 1886 and it is visited by several million people a year.

A symbol of freedom and democracy and a prominent draw for tourists, the statue was one of the first sights seen by millions of immigrants who arrived in New York harbor in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Copyright Reuters 2010

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