TWO people 'rescued by crane' from top of Reading building on fire

Revealed: TWO people were ‘rescued by crane’ from top of blazing building – as fire service hails hero operator whose split-second decision saved their lives and says freed workman ‘better play the lottery tonight’

  • Crane worker Glen Edwards praised by fire chief for ‘incredibly skilful’ rescue
  • Two people taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation yesterday
  • * Do you know the two rescued people? Please email: [email protected]

Two people were rescued by crane from a burning 16-storey building site in Reading and taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation, it was claimed today.

Astonishing video footage showed one workman being winched off the £750million Station Hill development site yesterday morning after the large blaze broke out.

Crane worker Glen Edwards who lifted the man to safety has been praised by a fire chief for the ‘incredibly skilful’ rescue. A fireman at the scene also told The Times that the rescued worker ‘better play the lottery tonight’. And the newspaper reported today that a second man is believed to have been rescued by crane in the incident.

Footage showed the moment Mr Edwards used the winch he was operating to move a cage towards a workman trapped on the building surrounded by flames and thick smoke. Crowds below broke out in applause as the man was lifted in the air.

Now, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer Wayne Bowcock has praised Mr Edwards for his efforts ‘under extremely difficult circumstances’.

Mr Bowcock added that without the actions of 65-year-old Mr Edwards, ‘we may be looking at an entirely different scenario’ – describing the blaze as a ‘substantial fire’.

* Do you know the two rescued people? Please email: [email protected]

Crane worker Glen Edwards described the rescue mission in Reading yesterday as a ‘close call’ 

Footage shows a man stranded at the top of the One Station Hill development in Reading

Having to choose his fate in a matter of seconds, the worker initially hesitates as the inferno surrounds him, before climbing aboard the cabin which was lifted into place by a colleague

Remarkable footage showed the man stranded on the top of the office block as it was engulfed in flames.

READ MORE Feet from the flames: Terrifying moment worker trapped at the top of 16-storey burning tower desperately begs to be saved – as humble crane driver who winched him to safety says ‘it’s not been your average day at work’

Having to choose his fate in seconds, he initially hesitated as the inferno surrounded him before he climbed into the cabin that had swung into place from the crane.

Unable to see properly through the smoke, Mr Edwards was given the signal when the man was in the cage before winching him to safety.

Mr Bowcock said last night: ‘Following today’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.

‘At the height of the fire, more than 50 of our firefighters and Officers attended the scene rapidly and worked quickly and aggressively, with support from Police, Ambulance and other partners to extinguish the fire, which, as you can see from the footage had developed into a substantial fire.

‘Thank you for the professionalism and dedication shown by all responders, as well as members of the Reading community for your patience and messages of support.’

Two people were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for further assessment and treatment for smoke inhalation, said South Central Ambulance Service.

A spokesperson added that neither were ‘severe cases’. It is not known whether either person is still in hospital today.

The cause of the fire has not been confirmed but a local builder believed it was tarmac or materials on the roof that had caught fire.

Mr Edwards, 65, from Egham, Surrey, said: ‘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.

Astonishing video footage showed one workman being winched off the site yesterday 

The dramatic three-minute rescue in Reading yesterday saved the construction worker’s life 

The windows appear to have melted on the high-rise structure in Reading town centre

‘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. It was quite windy conditions.’

He went on: ‘I would say it was a very close call, if you look at the video at the way the wind was swirling around there.

‘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.’

The man was then lifted to the ground.

Mr Edwards, who had been working at the site before the blaze broke out, played down his heroics, adding: ‘I don’t want to blow it up too much, I’m not that sort of person.’

Another man was also lifted from the building by crane, firefighters have said.

One witness said a tradesman ran into a pub to get water for his friend who was rescued from the burning high-rise by crane. 

Onlookers below applauded as the man clambered into a metal basket attached to the crane 

The fire spread across the top of a tower building site in the Station Hill development

The manager of The Greyfriar pub opposite the Station Hill development site said the man rescued was having a panic attack.

She said she first noticed smoke at about 11.45am and the man ran into the pub at around 12.05pm, asking for water.

The publican, who would not be named, said: ‘I saw smoke, it was quite thick and black, it was going over the station, I was just setting up (the pub).

‘One of the builders came in and said ‘Oh, can I get a bottle of water? because he was with the guy who was rescued by the crane – this guy was OK but having a panic attack.’

‘He went to pay and I was like ‘please just have it, take more’. He came in and he was like ‘I really need water for my friend’.’

The manager said she offered food and drinks to the evacuated builders who packed Greyfriars Road in front of the pub.

She added the fire was dying down by 12.10pm.

And a hairdresser working near the Reading high-rise said it is the second building to catch fire on the same construction site this year.

Jane Sneddon, 44, said she last had to evacuate her salon in July.

The 16-storey office block is part of a development that endured another fire back in July

The Station Hill development is intended to be a business and living quarter for Reading

Ruby Reds Hairdressing is directly beneath the building on fire today, and Ms Sneddon said she was close enough to feel the heat.

The Reading resident said her salon was evacuated in 2022 when scaffolding collapsed on another nearby building.

Ms Sneddon, who has owned the salon for four years, said: ‘There was another fire in a different building, we were evacuated again.

‘At the beginning (of the construction works) we had to be evacuated because the scaffolding fell down, someone was actually hurt that time.’

A manager at The Greyfriar pub, which overlooks the other side of the building site, said the previous fire happened on July 7.

Redwood Consulting, on behalf of Station Hill, said: ‘We activated our fire emergency plans immediately, the emergency services were notified and are currently on site.

‘The safety of those on site and the wider public is always our first priority, and the site has been evacuated as a result.’

The £750million Station Hill development, close to Reading station, is intended to be a business and living quarter for the town.

* Do you know the two rescued people? Please email: [email protected]

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