Man ‘calmly’ escapes from crane during blaze at building site off Caledonian Road

PUBLISHED: 13:19 25 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 25 May 2017

Fire crews were called to Balfe Street just after midday. Picture: Guy Bentley

Fire crews were called to Balfe Street just after midday. Picture: Guy Bentley


A man “calmly” escaped from a 30ft crane as fire crews tackled a blaze at a building site off the Caledonian Road.

Six engines and 35 firefighters dealt with the fire at what will be the new base of charity Institute of Physics in Balfe Street.

One person escaped from the cab of a 30ft crane before crews got there and no injuries have been reported.

The brigade was called at 12.06pm and crews from Islington, Kentish Town, Holloway, Paddington and Lambeth attended.

Firefighter Richard Tapp told the Gazette at the scene: “External cladding from the building had caught fire. When the crews got here there were large plumes of black smoke.

Fire engines at the scene. Picture: James MorrisFire engines at the scene. Picture: James Morris

“The site was evacuated very quickly apart from one person – who was in the crane. He was advised to stay put and we were eventually able to kill the flames, meaning he could come down in the normal way. He was very calm about it, from what I’m told.

“It was all over in 20 minutes, which was good going. Everything that needed to be done was done in the right way.”

He added the damage to the building was not too serious, saying: “I wouldn’t say it’d be too long before they can get back on site.”

Witness Guy Bentley added: “I was out canvassing for Emily Thornberry in the Barnsbury Estate. I just turned around and there was a huge billow of smoke. Within three minutes there were lots of sirens. I thought it was an explosion, but the police are saying it wasn’t.”

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