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A crane operator has rescued a man from a burning high-rise in England

The scene at the Station Hill development site in Reading where a fire broke out trapping a workman on the roof in Reading, England, Thursday Nov. 23, 2023. A crane operator played down tributes paid to him on Thursday after he lifted a man to safety from a burning high-rise building in England. (Lucy North/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — A crane operator played down tributes paid to him on Thursday after he lifted a man to safety from a burning high-rise building in England.

Video from the scene in the town of Reading in southern England showed a man being rescued by a crane cage from the roof of a building under construction as thick plumes of dark smoke and flames billowed around him.

A crowd that had gathered near the building broke out in applause as the man was lifted in the air and then lowered to the ground.

Crane operator Glen Edwards, 65, described the situation as a “close call” because of windy conditions.

“I was no more than 20 meters up in the air and I looked out my left-hand window and saw a guy standing on the corner of the building,” said Edwards, who had been working at the site before the blaze broke out.

“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," he added.

He said he tried to position the cage between the man and the flames but he was “hampered by the wind swirling around there.”

“But I got the cage down and I managed to get him in there," he said.

More than 50 firefighters arrived at the scene to tackle the blaze, officials said, and another man was also lifted from the building by crane. Both men were taken to a hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation. The fire was extinguished later Thursday.