More than 50 firefighters tackled last week’s fire at the ONE Station Hill construction site
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has begun an investigation into a fire which broke out last week at a Gensler-designed office scheme under construction in Reading.
Around 50 firefighters from across Berkshire tackled the blaze for just over four hours last Thursday at the One Station Hill site, an 18-storey block which topped out just two months ago.
Two people were taken to hospital after being rescued by crane from the 18-storey block, which has been designed for developer Lincoln MGT and is being built by Sir Robert McAlpine.
Councillor Jeff Brooks, chair of Royal Berkshire Fire Authority, said: “On behalf of the Fire Authority, I would like to commend the bravery of the crane operator for an incredibly skilful rescue under extremely difficult circumstances, aided by two team members who guided him during the rescue. Without their actions, we may be looking at an entirely different outcome.
Royal Berkshire fire and rescue service said the site had been handed over to the HSE to investigate the cause of the fire.
Local MP Matt Rodda has written to HSE chief executive Sarah Albon to “investigate the management of health and safety” at the site.
The Labour MP for Reading East said: “Workers at this site were injured and some had a very lucky escape, with one worker being hoisted away from the top of a tower block seconds before he was about to be engulfed in smoke and flames. At least two workers were taken to hospital.
“However, this serious incident is not the first one at this building site. I understand that this is the second fire to have broken out in the last five months.
“I am concerned, therefore, that there may be a more widespread failure of health and safety at the site. I hope you will be able to investigate these incidents.”
Gensler declined to comment.
In a statement, Sir Robert McAlpine said: “We are immensely proud of those on site whose actions helped ensure a safe evacuation. Our site safety procedures and training for dealing with an incident of this nature worked and everyone is safe. We have contacted all those affected and are offering support from wellbeing professionals. The two individuals taken to hospital as a precautionary measure have been discharged and are well.
“Fortunately, incidents of this nature are extremely rare. The site has been safely secured and a thorough investigation is underway, meaning at this stage we are unable to comment further.”
One Station Hill is the second phase of a wider £750m redevelopment masterplanned by Callison RTKL.
The first phase of the project comprises 600 homes and according to McAlpine’s website is due to complete soon.
The second phase began work last spring with the overall development including 625,000 sq ft of office space, 1,300 private and affordable homes and 95,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.
The project team for the second phase also includes planning consultant DP9, cost consultant Cast COnsultancy, structural engineer Ramboll, MEP, energy and fire consultant Hoare Lea, landscape architect LDA Design and facade engineer EOC.