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Massive crane catches fire at port in Portsmouth

PORTSMOUTH — Fire engulfed a crane at the New Hampshire State Pier on Market Street Tuesday afternoon, causing heavy damage to the massive piece of equipment.

The operator of the crane was able to get out safely.

Port Director Geno Marconi said they do not yet know what caused the fire.

He said the operator of a nearby truck waiting for the crane to unload his pile of scrap metal heard a pop and then saw smoke coming from the crane.

By the time he got out of his truck, the crane was ablaze.

Marconi said an alarm was sounded and the fire department was called just before 2 p.m. They arrived within minutes and were able to put the fire out quickly.

The port's oil spill response team was also called to deal with a small amount of fuel that leaked from the crane. Marconi said the crane holds about 350 gallons of fuel, but only a small amount of that leaked from a small fuel line.

Marconi said he was not concerned that the massive piles of scrap metal on either side of the crane would catch fire.

The port only accepts certain types of scrap metal that are supposed to be as free of oil as possible to prevent fire hazards.

The crane is operated by Grimmel Industries, the largest user of the port, not by the Port Authority.

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