‘Terrifying’ moment crane plucks man from burning high-rise
A crane operator is being hailed as a hero for his quick-thinking “terrifying” rescue of a man stuck on a burning building in a city west of London.
Video is circulating on social media of the blaze at a Reading construction site on Thursday morning, showing the man trapped on a roof surrounded by flames and thick black smoke.
Suddenly, a metal cage is lowered, allowing the man to clamber in. He is then hoisted to safety.
His rescuer was later identified as 65-year-old crane operator Glen Edwards, who admitted it was a close call.
“I was no more than 20 metres up in the air and I looked out my left-hand window and saw a guy standing on the corner of the building,” Edwards said.
“I’d only just seen him and someone said ‘can you get the cage on’, so that was it – I got the cage on and got it over to him the best I could.”
Edwards said the manoeuvre was tricky because of the wind.
“I would say it was a very close call, if you look at the video at the way the wind was swirling around there,” he said.
“I tried to put the cage down between him and the flames, but I was hampered by the wind swirling around there.
“But I got the cage down and I managed to get him in there.”
He agreed it was”not been your average day at work”.
A carpenter working nearby said there was applause from onlookers gathered on the ground as the man, whose name and age have not been revealed, was eventually safe.
“He was coughing [when he came down], from the smoke, you know what I mean. When he got inside [the cage] and the crane put him down everyone was clapping,” he said.
“The crane driver was very fast. He was still in the crane while the building was on fire.”
Tom Canning, who was in the crowd, said the fire “looked horrific, just massive plumes of black smoke”.
“The crane operator was just incredibly brave to rescue that worker,” he said.
Another witness, Steve Reynolds – who works nearby – said he “saw a black cloud go up and a ball of flames happen”.
“I could see there was a guy trapped on the corner,” he told the BBC.
“There were bits of glass falling off the side of the building and he was completely exposed up there.
“Then all of a sudden a crane came out from the left with a carriage on it and they lowered it down… and he gets in and they pull him away.
“There was a massive cheer from all the workers on the ground. It was pretty terrifying.”
Local paramedics said two people were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation after the fire on Thursday morning (local time). Neither were “severe cases”.
The local fire service said there were 50 firefighters on the scene to put out the blaze. Firefighters with breathing apparatus “used two main jets to extinguish the fire”, it said.
Group Manager Chris Hearn said there was also a second crane rescue during the blaze.