'Heroic' crane driver praised for saving worker trapped in Reading fire

More than 50 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze at the Station Hill development in the town centre at 11.30am on Thursday (November 23). Credit: BPM Media

Construction workers have hailed the "heroic" action of a crane driver who reportedly saved a worker trapped in a fire at a building site in Reading.

More than 50 firefighters were sent to tackle the blaze at the Station Hill development in the town centre at 11.30am on Thursday (November 23).

Hundreds of construction workers and office staff were evacuated from surrounding buildings as fire crews worked to contain the fire, which appeared to have spread to the top of a high-rise tower under construction near the train station.

The fire service has confirmed that two people were rescued by crane and taken for medical treatment.

Several construction workers at the development site said that crane driver Glen Edwards was responsible for saving one worker trapped by the fire.

Glen, a crane operator of 30 years, said it had "not been your average day at work".

He said: "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."

Mr Edwards said moving the cage used for transporting personnel was incredibly difficult because of the thick, black smoke that was covering the upper floors of the construction site.

Mr Edwards said: "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 (supervisor) told me when he was in."

Two people were rescued by a crane.

Another construction worker, who asked not to be named, said Glen was "a bit of hero" for his actions under pressure. The worker said: "If he had been any longer, it would have been a very different ending."

A spokesperson for South Central Ambulance Service said two people had been taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.

The spokesperson said: “I can confirm we’ve taken two people to the Royal Berkshire Hospital for further assessment and treatment for smoke inhalation, neither of whom were severe cases.

“We are now on stand-by supporting the fire service (which is a standard operational procedure when they are working at height and at scale).

"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.”

A spokesman for Lincoln MGT, the join venture company responsible for delivering the Station Hill development, said: "We can confirm that a fire took place on the Station Hill construction site this morning.

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

A spokesperson for Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "Crews remain at the scene of the incident at this time.

"Please continue to avoid the area to allow emergency services access to the scene."

Thames Valley Police have been contacted for further information.