December 18, 2013 12:10 am

Major fire erupts in downtown Kingston

ABOVE: Multiple angles of the dramatic rescue of crane operator in Kingston

Update: Dec. 18 – Mayor says the Kingston fire is contained, but the risk of crane collapse is keeping firefighters back

TORONTO- A crane operator was rescued after being trapped for almost two hours atop his rig in Kingston as a massive fire broke out below.

A helicopter team from nearby Canadian Forces Base Trenton was called in for the dramatic rescue. The helicopter hovered over the crane for close to a minute as a rescuer was lowered down to help the trapped construction worker.

Kingston police said the crane operator suffered only minor injuries and was sent to a local hospital.



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ABOVE: Rescuer Sgt. Corey Cisyk talks about saving stranded crane operator

Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen said the fire at the main construction site is under control, but fire crews are still trying to put out fires at buildings nearby, including a senior’s residence.

“The fire started in a building that was currently under construction and  is about five or six storeys primarily made out of wood. The fire started and as you can imagine being a wooden structure ran through the building extremely quickly. There is not much left of the original [building]. The building has completely collapsed or burned down,” Gerretsen told Global News.

“Because of the winds and the size of the fire because it was a wooden structure a lot of the fire has flown over top of other buildings and has actually set a few other buildings on fire. So right now we are focusing on putting out those fires, while the original one continues to burn itself out.”

Watch: A crane operator was trapped above a raging fire at a Kingston construction site and was left clinging to the end of the crane. Jennifer Tryon has more on the dramatic rescue.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon in a student housing building under construction on Princess Street in downtown Kingston.

The city was warned in a November, 2013 email that the building was known locally as the “tinderbox.” The writer of the email to the city claimed that if there was a fire “it will be horrific.”

The email, responding to a proposed zoning amendment for that block, was sent to Fred Saunders, a clerk for the city of Kingston, who then forwarded it to the city planner, Jason Budd, who was working on the file. Global News has not been able to reach Budd for comment.

According to city documents, a numbered company wanted to increase the maximum number of bedrooms permitted in the building. A staff report recommended approving the application.

“I am speaking against the  proposed increase in the number of units, particularly in the basement of the building where people can get caught in some kind of natural disaster,” the email reads.

Watch: Peter Kim reports on the major fire that erupted in Kingston. 

Randy Conroy lives around the corner from the building on Princess Street. He was on his way home when the fire broke out and said sparks and embers were raining down on top of him.

“I cannot describe it in words, but it was like walking through … instead of rain, fire sparks coming down atop of me,” he said.

“It was raining fire.”

According to local news station CKWS, a caller to their station said “flames were shooting above the building 10 or 15 feet.”

Watch the video below: Major fire erupts in Kingston, Ont. 

Utilities have been shut down in the area to make it safe for crews battling the fire and there were fears the crane was unstable and might collapse

Kingston police said the Canadian Red Cross is now assisting evacuees at an emergency centre to provide warm clothes and food.

WATCH: Kingston Mayor provides update on major fire

Officials have not determined what caused the fire.

With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2013