Conflict & Justice

Helicopter rescues stranded crane operator as fire rages below (VIDEO)


A military helicopter rescues a stranded crane operator as fire rages below in Kingston, Ont., on Dec. 17, 2013.



Anxious witnesses captured dramatic video on Tuesday in Canada of a military helicopter rescuing a trapped crane operator forced to the edge of his machine by raging flames below him.

The fire began about 2:30 p.m. Eastern time at a construction site in downtown Kingston, Ont., the local Whig-Standard daily reported.

A crane operator – as yet unidentified – had to leave the cab and edge himself along the crane arm as smoke and flames surrounded his rig.

He spent an hour exposed to the cold and wind before a military helicopter from a nearby base arrived to pluck him and transport him to safety. The man needed treatment for only minor injuries.

“This is far from routine,” military representative David Elias told CBC News. “He wasn’t just standing on a tower crane. He was standing on a tower crane surrounded by flames.”

The crane operator – with no choice and no alternative exits – was forced to wait for rescue workers as passersby shouted words of encouragement.

He moved the crane’s arm away from the smoke, but there was still some concern the blaze was so intense it would compromise the metal machine and bring it toppling to the ground, the Whig said.

With that intense blaze making it impossible for anyone to climb up after him, or extend him a ladder, the operator could only lie down and wait.

When the helicopter arrived, a rescue worker lowered himself to the arm and strapped a rope around the trapped man. The two were lifted to safety by the pilot.

Flames and smoke could be seen from blocks as firefighters battled to control the blaze and stop it from spreading to nearby buildings, including a gas station across the street.

Neighboring homes and a school were also evacuated, the Toronto Star reported.