Hero crane operator says fire rescue was ‘very close call’


A large fire has broken out a high-rise building in Reading, with dramatic footage showing a worker being winched to safety by a crane surrounded by flames and thick black smoke in the centre of the town.

Video posted on social media shows the blaze at what appears to be a construction site – with a worker trapped on the roof.

Reading fire. Pic: @ChrLauder via PA
Pic: @ChrLauder via PA

It shows a white cage being lowered down – engulfed by flames – to a person visible on the roof of the building, who steps into it and swiftly shuts a trapdoor before they are hoisted away.

On the ground, crowds can be seen looking on in horror as firefighters tackle the blaze.

Reading fire. Pic: @ChrLauder via PA
Pic: @ChrLauder via PA

Redwood Consulting, on behalf of Station Hill – the development site – said the scene had been evacuated.

“We activated our fire emergency plans immediately, the emergency services were notified and are currently on site,” it said in a statement.

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

“As soon as we have more information we will provide an update.”

Reading fire: Pic: @ChrLauder via PA
Pic: @ChrLauder via PA

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had received reports of the fire near Napier Road at 11.38am on Thursday.

It said: “A number of our crews are currently on the scene.

“While emergency services work, we ask that people avoid the area where possible and close windows and doors if you live or work nearby.”

A spokesperson for South Central Ambulance Service said two people were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for further assessment and treatment for smoke inhalation. Neither were “severe cases”, they said.

“We are now on standby supporting the fire service (which is a standard operational procedure when they are working at height and at scale),” they added.

“We have our Hazardous Area Response Team, an ambulance, the Thames Valley Air Ambulance critical care car, an operational commander, a tactical adviser and a tactical commander at the scene.”

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