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Helicopter plucks crane operator from fire danger

By CNN Staff
December 18, 2013 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
  • Canadian Forces helicopter rescues crane operator trapped by fire
  • The fire Monday destroyed a building in Kingston, Ontario, CBC reports
  • The crane operator escaped with only minor injuries, the network says

(CNN) -- A Canadian Forces crew calmly plucked a terrified crane operator trapped by a smoke-spewing fire in Kingston, Ontario.

The Tuesday rescue was captured by television cameras and bystanders and posted to social media.

The operator had moved from the cab of his crane to its very tip to escape flames and smoke from a building fire that broke out below him Tuesday, and bystanders captured the rescue in a series of images posted to social media.

"At first he was petrified, he didn't want to let go of the crane," rescue helicopter commander Capt. David Agnew told CNN affiliate CTV of the crane operator.

The helicopter crew arrived to find smoke and flames everywhere and were concerned about the crane collapsing, Agnew told the network.

A rescue specialist dropped out of the hovering helicopter on a line, secured the crane operator to himself before the air crew hoisted both back inside to safety.

The crane operator suffered only minor injuries, according to CTV.

The crane remained standing Wednesday, CBC reported, but engineers are concerned it could fall. A two-block area around the crane remained evacuated, the network said.

The fire destroyed a student residence hall being built at Queens University, CBC reported.