Need to know: Kingston crane operator stars in real-life action adventure

Military helicopter rescue was straight out of the movies
A search and rescue helicopter lowers a technician to rescue a crane operator during a fire in downtown Kingston, Ont., Tuesday, Dec.17, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg
Lars Hagberg/CP

The story
When we daydream about our lives mimicking the movies, we’re usually the heroes, or at least not the victims. But yesterday, stunned onlookers in Kingston, Ont., watched as a scene straight out of a blockbuster played out in front of their eyes. A student residence, still under construction, went up in flames at about 2:15 p.m. A crane operator, stuck atop his craft, was stranded.

“He actually had to get out of the little booth he was in and walk across the entire length of the crane, which would have been frightening enough,” John Ashie, a witness to the scene, told The Canadian Press. “He had to sit on the edge of the crane, and about 15 minutes later the flames were so big they were going up above the crane.”

A call went out to the Canadian Armed Forces, which dispatched a Griffon helicopter from a squadron based in Trenton, Ont. It arrived at about 3:35 p.m., and eventually plucked the operator from his crane. All workers on the site are said to be accounted for, and the fire only briefly spread to nearby structures.

The National Post reports on an eerily prescient concern that arose at local planning committee meetings just last month. The residence, built of wood, sparked concern among residents. The Post dug up a Nov. 7 email from one observer who cautioned that “there is an extremely high probability that accidents resulting in fire will occur.” Boisterous meetings will surely follow. But, at the very least, the crane operator survived, and emergency services performed admirably. End scene.

The stat
55: Minutes that passed between 424 Squadron receiving the call and the crane operator’s successful rescue

The quote
“At first he was petrified. He didn’t want to let go of the crane.” —Cpt. David Agnew, the aircraft commander at CFB Trenton, on the rescued crane operator


What’s above the fold

The Globe and MailVladimir Putin wooed Ukraine with cheap energy and billions of dollars.
National Post A military helicopter rescued a crane operator atop a Kingston fire.
Toronto StarRob Ford’s apology didn’t satisfy reporter Daniel Dale.
Ottawa CitizenThe feds are freezing departmental budgets for two years.
CBC NewsThe Kingston crane engulfed in flames is badly damaged.
CTV NewsThe Kingston crane operator was “petrified.”
National NewswatchJim Flaherty‘s apparent poor health is increasingly concerning.


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