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Crews began disassembling the south tower crane at the HarborCenter construction site late Thursday, a process that is expected to be completed by Monday.

An additional 300-foot mobile crane was brought in to take apart the machine closest to First Niagara Center, beginning with its boom. It will take four days to complete.

In the meantime, the surrounding area has been fenced off for safety reasons.

“This has been scheduled all along for the third week of June,” Buffalo Sabres spokesman Mike Gilbert said. “It’s exciting; another sign that the construction is coming along.”

The mobile crane, which has the capacity to hold up to 600 tons, will disassemble the 250-foot stationary tower piece by piece, each weighing about 4,000 pounds.

Crews are expected to ship out a total of 13-15 truckloads of crane parts when the disassembly process is completed.

The crane was no longer needed after ironworkers completed the framing of the southern portion of HarborCenter earlier this month. It was struck by lightning with a crew member inside as storms rolled in June 12. No one was injured, and there was no damage.

The crane, which came here from Tennessee when construction began last year, is scheduled to be shipped off to Chicago for an inspection before beginning a new job in Milwaukee.

It is not clear how much longer the north tower crane will be needed on the job site, HarborCenter spokesman Don Heins said.

email: bschlager@buffnews.com