This is the terrifying moment a builder came close to being engulfed in flames, before a modest crane driver saved him from the roof of a burning £750million Reading development today.
The man, who has not been named, was close to dying before Glen Edwards managed to carry out a Hollywood-style rescue and move a cage through smoke and flame to save his unnamed colleague.
Before Mr Edwards, 65, had an opportunity to showcase his operator skills, footage shows the other builder stranded alone on top of the One Station Hill office development close to Reading Station, as his feet become engulfed in flames. The workman uses his coat to attract his lifesaver, as the thick clouds of toxic smoke submerge him.
Under huge pressure Glen, from Egham, Surrey, then managed to expertly drop a cabin on to the top of the One Station Hill office development close to Reading Station as the building was engulfed in flames. There were huge cheers from the ground as the man jumped into the cage and was winched down to safety in scenes
Mr Edwards played down his heroics, but admitted: ‘It has not been your average day at work.’ He also added: ‘I would say it was a very close call.’
Glen Edwards – the man operating the crane during the rescue effort tat saw a man saved from a burning tower in Reading today
The builder can be seen stranded alone on top of the One Station Hill office development close to Reading Station, as his feet become engulfed in flames
Station Road and Blagrave Street are now closed as police launch a drone to investigate a fire that appears to have spread across the top of a tower building site in the Station Hill development
The heroic crane operator said today: ‘I saw someone waving his coat. 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.
‘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.’
The Sir Robert McAlpine construction worker managed to winched the man to safety at top speed as the blaze continued to roar, passing his cargo through the thick black smoke that was spreading throughout the town in what he described as a ‘close call’.
Mr Edwards continued: ‘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.’
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.’
The dramatic three-minute rescue undoubtedly saved the builder’s life as all around him blazing cladding caused massive clouds of toxic smoke.
Another man was also lifted from the building by crane, firefighters have said. Incredibly despite the severity of the fire, only two people needed to go to hospital with smoke inhalation, including the workman saved by Glen.
The 16-storey office block, situated opposite Reading rail and Crossrail station, is part of a development that endured another fire just five months ago. The fire is contained but the cause is not yet known.
Eyewitnesses to the devastating fire have described how the scenes were ‘like 9/11’ – as builders in high-visibility gear rushed to a nearby pub to get water for those miraculously rescued by Mr Edwards.
A manager at the Greyfriar pub, which looks directly onto the staff entrance to the site, described the drama as a construction worker ran in and asked for a bottle of water to help one of the men who had been rescued from the roof.
Remarkable footage shows a man stranded at the top of the £750m One Station Hill development in Reading as the building is engulfed in flames
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
People have been told to avoid the area, with nearby locals told to close their windows and doors, as smoke can now from villages several miles away
‘It was maybe 11.45am when I saw the smoke,’ she told MailOnline. ‘It was quite thick, going over the station, and I went out to look – it was quite hard to see at first which building was on fire because it was coming through between two of them.
‘I started to make my way back to the pub and they started evacuating people – more and more people, and the whole area around here was sealed off. Quite a lot of builders then came in to get a drink and use the loo – one came in at about 10 past, quarter past 12 and said, “Can I get a bottle of water?”
‘He was with the guy rescued with the crane, who was having a bit of a panic attack. I gave him a bottle of water and he went to pay for it – I said, “No, absolutely not.”
‘It looked like the fire brigade dealt with it quite quickly – by 10 past 12 most of the smoke had gone, but everyone had to stay out here for quite a long time. That crane operator is a hero.’
Building site staff declined to speak to MailOnline at the entrance to the Station Hill development in Reading town centre on Wednesday. However, sources have suggested that insulation may be to blame.
It follows a fire at the Station Hill development in July – just four months ago. Locals are concerned about safety at the site, where homes are already being offered for sale.
The bar manager added: ‘Then there’s the other fire that happened in July. The smoke was the same – very, very thick black smoke coming from almost the same place.
‘As someone that runs a business so close to the site, it’s getting a bit concerning, in the space of a few months there has been two fires. There must be hundreds of people working there. One of the builders said to me you don’t realise how many people work there.
‘Thank God they were able to save everyone this time but if things like this keep happening…you dread to think.’
A spokesperson for South Central Ambulance Service said two people had been taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation
The dramatic three-minute rescue undoubtedly saved the builder’s life as all around him blazing cladding caused massive clouds of toxic smoke
More than 50 firefighters at the scene of the high-rise building under construction alongside an Aerial Ladder Platform and Incident Command Unit
Eyewitness Charlene Flygring, 36, from Caversham, had been considering moving into the development with her young son, three – but says today’s fire has put her off altogether.
The website for the Ebb and Flow development, as it is known, offers build-to-let flats from £1320 a month for a studio flat.
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.’
A hairdresser working near the Reading high-rise that was damaged in a blaze on Thursday 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. 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 said the previous fire happened on July 7.
The windows appear to have melted on the high-rise structure, as warped glass and scorched windows could be seen on the side of the building
A carpenter, who was working nearby, said onlookers below applauded as the man clambered into a metal basket attached to the crane and was carried away from the flames
The flames and smoke spread across the whole roof of the £750m One Station Hill office development close to Reading Station
Locals on the high street behind the Station Hill development went about their business as normal on Thursday night as the high-rise – which still has power – loomed overhead.
Some stopped to take photographs of the burnt, shattered glass destroyed by the flames. Cordons remain in place around the entrances to the site.
A local shopkeeper described the ‘burning flames’ that set in at the Station Hill site, which he said consumed the building for around half an hour. ‘It covered the horizon,’ he added. ‘There needs to be an investigation.’
A carpenter, who was working nearby, said onlookers below applauded as the rescued man clambered into a metal basket attached to the crane and was carried away from the flames.
The witness, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I was in the next door building, there was a guy standing up there (on top of the building), luckily the crane came in just in time.
‘He was coughing [when he came down], from the smoke, you know what I mean. When he got inside the crane and the crane put him down everyone was clapping. The crane driver was very fast. He was still in the crane while the building was on fire.’
A worker from the development added: ‘There were flames everywhere. Fortunately the wind was blowing in the opposite direction so the rescued builder was not badly affected by breathing in the smoke.
‘There was a big round of applause from all the guys who were standing in the street, as he was lowered to the ground.’
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue were called to the fire on Station Hill at 11.38am this morning. More than 50 firefighters were at the scene of the high-rise building under construction alongside an Aerial Ladder Platform and Incident Command Unit.
Station Road and Blagrave Street are now closed as police launch a drone to investigate a fire that appears to have spread across the top of a tower building site in the Station Hill development.
The 16-storey office block is part of a development that endured another fire just five months ago
Peter, who runs a local café, said the fire was ‘really quite dramatic – thick billowing smoke and lots of flames’
Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus used two main jets to extinguish the fire.
The fire service say two people were recused by the crane and taken into the care of South Central Ambulance Service.
Christopher Hutton, of the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘Just after half 11 today, we received reports of a fire on Station Hill in Reading.
‘At its peak, over 50 firefighters were on the scene from fire stations across the county. Crews found the fire in a high-rise building under construction. Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus used two main jets to extinguish the fire.
‘We understand that two people were rescued by a crane and have been placed in the care of South Central Ambulance Service and fortunately, all other people were accounted for.
‘The fire has now been extinguished and we have scaled back our resources at the incident, but a number of crews will remain at the scene at this time to dampen down.’
A spokesperson for the ambulance service said the two people are receiving 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 Thames Valley Police officer said he was the first to call the fire in, as he watched the man get rescued
Thames Valley Police have closed Friar Street, but Great Western Railway say the fire has not affected train services yet
The black smoke could be seen from several miles away in nearby villages
A Thames Valley Police officer said he was the first to call the fire in, as he watched the man get rescued in the crane.
The policeman said: ‘I was the first person to call it in, and i saw a man getting rescued. He’s in an ambulance in hospital now, he lobbed himself in the cage, I ran in the building and shouted is anyone in there. I don’t think there was loads of people only a couple of people working on the roof.’
The cause of the fire is not been confirmed, but a local builder believes it was tarmac on the roof that caught fire.
He said: ‘I was the first person to call it in, and I saw a man getting rescued. He’s in an ambulance in hospital now, he lobbed himself in the cage, I ran in the building and shouted is anyone in there. I don’t think there was loads of people only a couple of people working on the roof.’
People were told to avoid the area during the day. Those living and working close to the building were told to close their windows and doors, as smoke could be seen from villages several miles away.
The windows appear to have melted on the high-rise structure, as warped glass and scorched windows could be seen on the side of the building and parts of the roof appear to have bent.
Steve Reynolds, who works in a building 100 yards opposite where the fire started, told the BBC: ‘I saw a black cloud go up and a ball of flames happen and all of a sudden I could see there was a guy trapped on the corner. There were bits of glass falling off the side of the building and he was completely exposed up there.
‘Then all of a sudden a crane came out from the left with a carriage on it and they lowered it down… and he gets in and they pull him away. There was a massive cheer from all the workers on the ground. It was pretty terrifying.’
Peter, who runs a local café, said the fire was ‘really quite dramatic – thick billowing smoke and lots of flames’. ‘We immediately got rid of all our customers – that’s all we could think to do,’ he said.
Aaron, who was a bystander, said: ‘It’s just the most devastating thing I’ve seen in my life.’
Office workers at Thames Tower, which is very close to the on fire construction site, saw the flames first hand and were asked to evacuated around 11.40am
The Station Hill complex was set to provide up to 1,300 homes
Redwood Consulting, speaking on behalf of the Station Hill developers, said it activated its fire emergency plans immediately
The cause of the fire is not been confirmed, but a local builder believes it was tarmac pitchman on the roof that caught fire.
The One Station Hill Complex was a landmark building that was due to open next year containing 15 floors of workspace and a fitness club
This is not the first the landmark building has caught fire, as it was the centre of a blaze in July last year
Firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus are using two main jets to fight the fire
Luke Edgecombe, who works in a building 500 meters from the site of the fire, told the MailOnline about the ‘mass hysteria’ on the streets when the flames became visible.
The 29-year-old said: ‘There were large amounts of crowds. There was quite a lot of hysteria. I guess people were interested. It’s not something you often see, a large building on fire.
‘There were lots of people with their phones out and lots of rumours probably being spoken about how it started. It’s something that’s completely abnormal and shouldn’t be happening.’
Station Road and Blagrave Street was closed as police launched a drone to investigation into how the fire started.
Office workers at Thames Tower, who were very close to the on fire construction site, saw the flames first hand and were asked to evacuated around 11.40am.
Thames Valley Police have closed Friar Street, but Great Western Railway say the fire has not affected train services yet.
Due to an incident, Thames Travel say the 143 and X40 services are unable to serve Friar Street, Station Road and Forbury Road.
The One Station Hill Complex was a landmark building that was due to open next year containing 15 floors of workspace and a fitness club.
This is not the first the landmark building has caught fire, as it was the centre of a blaze in July this year.
On that day, large plums of smoke were also seen flying into the air. All people at the site were accounted for and nobody was thought to have been harmed
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. As soon as we have more information we will provide an update.’