A crane operator who saved a man from a fire has said he was shaking after the tense rescue – as he thanked well-wishers who have donated nearly £7,000 to “buy him a beer”.
Glen Edwards said “swirling wind” made the rescue in Reading last Thursday a tricky feat to pull off.
He told Sky News the man – who he still hasn’t met – only had a few square metres of space due to the smoke and flames lashing the building.
The 65-year-old had a concrete skip on his crane when the alarm went off, but leapt into action when he spotted the man waving his coat.
Mr Edwards attached a metal cage and said he had a “couple of options” on how to approach the rescue.
“I knew what the radius was on that level, as I put numerous materials down on there before,” he said.
However, thick black smoke still made it difficult for the crane operator from Egham in Surrey.
“I’ve got a camera on my jib and I couldn’t see nothing – couldn’t see him – smoke was swirling around, so the cradle passed out of sight,” said Mr Edwards.
A colleague helped guide him as a crowd on the ground held their breath and watched.
Mr Edwards said it “seemed like an eternity” until the man got inside.
“We’ve got gauges and it tells me what weight’s on – that cage is about 400kg – so when I touched down all the weight goes off on the gauge,” he explained.
“Then it was just a matter of waiting – and then the smoke cleared a bit and I could see him on my camera and he was waiting to get in.”
He said he could hear the crowd shouting as he “pulled the lever right back as fast as I could to get him out of there”.
“The adrenaline was out the roof,” said Mr Edwards – who admitted having the shakes afterwards.
He still hasn’t met the man he hoisted to safety, joking: “He’s got to take me across the road for a drink yet!”
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There were cheers and applause from onlookers as the man was rescued and the footage immediately went viral.
Mr Edwards said the reaction had been amazing.
“It means a lot, some of the comments have been absolutely fantastic,” he said – adding that his partner was also “very proud of him [and] gave me a big hug when I got home”.
A fundraising page to “buy Glen a beer as a token of gratitude” has smashed its original target of £5,000 and now stands at over £6,700.
The rescued man was taken to hospital with mild smoke inhalation, but Mr Edwards said he’d been discharged the same day.
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