Two people 'rescued by crane' from Reading fire are 'safe and well'

Two people ‘rescued by crane’ from top of blazing 16-storey building in Reading are ‘safe and well’ after being rushed to hospital with smoke inhalation

  • 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 rescued by crane from a burning 16-storey high rise under construction in Reading are now ‘safe and well’ at home after being treated for smoke inhalation.

In dramatic scenes caught on video on Thursday, one of the workmen could be seen being plucked from the fiery rooftop on a winch thanks to the quick thinking of crane worker Glen Edwards, who has been praised for his ‘incredibly skilful rescue’.

It later emerged that a second man was also rescued from the building, part of the £750million Station Hill development of flats and offices; both were taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for treatment and are now recovering at home.

Mr Edwards – who cooly described his heroics as ‘not your average day at work’ – has been commended by Berkshire fire chiefs who say that without his and two co-workers’ astute actions, there may have been an ‘entirely different outcome’.

Councillor Jeff Brooks, chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said the rescue had been carried out under ‘extremely difficult circumstances’ by Mr Edwards and his associates, who are believed to have acted as lookouts through the thick smoke.

* 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

Cllr Brooks said: ‘On behalf of the Fire Authority, I would like to commend the bravery of the crane operator for an incredibly skilful rescue under extremely difficult circumstances, aided by two team members who guided him during the rescue. 

‘Without their actions, we may be looking at an entirely different outcome.

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’

‘We extend our best wishes to the two people who were rescued from the building. We understand that following brief treatment at Royal Berkshire Hospital, they are now at home, safe and well.’

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

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.

More than 50 firefighters and fire officers were called to the scene, alongside Thames Valley Police officers, South Central Ambulance Service crews and Reading Borough Council officers.

Wayne Bowcock, chief fire officer of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said the blaze had been ‘substantial’ at its peak, as thick black smoke billowed into the air that could be seen for miles.

He added: ‘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.

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

Fire crews left the site at 12.30pm on Friday, just over 24 hours after the bonfire began, and cordons have been lifted 

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.

‘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.’ 

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

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

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. 

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

Reading fire eyewitness Charlene Flygring, 36 from Caversham. She had been considering a property in the Station Hill development and compared the scenes today to “9/11”.

Workers gathered outside the site as the fire took hold on Thursday

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.

And eyewitness Charlene Flygring, 36, from Caversham, had been considering moving into the Station Hill development with her young son, three – but says today’s fire has put her off altogether.

Hospitality manager Ms Flygring said the scenes of thick black smoke billowing from the all-glass development reminded her of the September 11 terror attacks in 2001.

She told MailOnline: ‘My son goes to nursery just up the road. I got a video from someone who works at the train station when I was on my way here and it just looked like 9/11: bright blue sky, crisp day, a big glass building, the smoke billowing down from the top.

‘When I got here there were just police everywhere, armed police, normal police, community police. You could see people in orange and yellow jackets, maybe 100, 150 workers.

‘This happened in July and they had to shut the street – literally a matter of months ago and it was such a big deal. I was looking at property there – I went for a viewing. There are people living in the properties at the moment. They advertise them on social media.

‘But I have a child. The fire in July might have been a one in a million situation – but this, this is scary.’

She added: ‘This fire went up in the blink of an eye,’ clicking her fingers to make her point. ‘Am I now thinking of moving in there? Hell no. Everyone seems very guarded about what happened. They say it’s regeneration of the area – but do it safely.’

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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