Worker lifted to safety as blaze engulfs McAlpine site

Aaron Morby 3 months ago
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A workman trapped on the roof of a burning high-rise building under construction in Reading by Sir Robert McAlpine was dramatically rescued on Thursday by a quick-thinking crane driver.

Driver Glen Edwards swung the cage to the roof top where the man was stranded as hundreds of people watched on in horror as the workman struggled to get in before being finally lifted to safety.

Edwards has been a crane driver for 30 years and said it had “not been your average day at work”.

He told Berkshire Live: “I was driving the crane at the time. I saw someone waving his coat. I got a radio call to get the man riser. I was being (supervised) from the ground.

“I knew the person was at that level. But the wind was blowing the cage about. I was just waiting for the smoke to clear. I could see I was putting it down in the flames. The banksman told me when he was in.”

Wayne Bowcock, Chief Fire Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Following yesterday’s fire in Reading town centre, I would like to add my thanks to the crane operator for an incredibly skilful rescue under extremely difficult circumstances. Without their actions, we may be looking at an entirely different scenario.

“On behalf of the service, I would like to extend our best wishes to the two people who were rescued from the building and wish them a speedy recovery.”

More than 50 firefighters and an aerial ladder platform and incident command unit were called to the scene at 11:38am on Thursday morning.

The £750m Station Hill regeneration project includes several major buildings under construction including offices and residential.

Sir Robert McAlpine topped out the One Station Hill office building in September.

A spokesperson for McAlpine said: “We are thankful that everybody was evacuated to a place of safety and we are very grateful for the swift action taken by everyone on the site.”

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