By Bryan Schwartzman

During a week in which several demonstrations were staged against the JFK Airtrain project, a crane used as part of the construction caught fire early Friday morning in a fire police and fire officials have deemed suspicious.

Detective Madelyne Galindo said the fire occurred at about 2 a.m. Friday in an unoccupied construction vehicle near the South Conduit Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway in South Ozone Park. Galindo said police deemed the fire, which scorched the towering crane, suspicious because of ongoing protests against the project by the community.

The $1.5 billion elevated railroad will connect John F. Kennedy International Airport to the Long Island Rail Road via Jamaica station and will run down the center of the Van Wyck Expressway. The project consists of an intra-terminal train which runs around the airport and will connect to the A subway line via the Howard Beach station.

Activists have maintained they only oppose the Jamaica station link of the project.

Margo Hill, of the Southeast Queens Concerned Neighbors, a group that has fought the construction of the Airtrain for more than a year, said by calling the fire suspicious the police have implicated her group as being behind the fire.

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