Crane operator saved from fire in Kingston, Ont.

A crane operator who was stranded above a massive fire in Kingston, Ont., has been lifted to safety by helicopter in a dramatic rescue.

A rescue helicopter from CFB Trenton arrived at the scene above Princess and Victoria streets before 4 p.m. Tuesday to reach the worker, who was trapped high in the air while fire crews put out a blaze below.

He was taken to hospital with minor injuries.

The CH-146 Griffon rescue helicopter was part of the 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at 8 Wing Trenton.

"This is far from routine," said David Elias, a civilian public affairs officer working for the Canadian military.

"We're normally not involved in urban rescue. The number of times we would have hoisted someone off a crane like this, I imagine we could count that on one hand. Normally we are hoisting people off of boats or mountains," said Elias.

"He wasn't just standing on a tower crane. He was standing on a tower crane surrounded by flames."

All construction workers at the site are believed to be accounted for, according to Kingston police.

The fire began at about 2:20 p.m. at a student housing complex under construction near the 600 block of Princess Street, according to Kingston police Const. Steve Koopman. The building, which was vacant, was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters heard from residents of possible explosions and feared there was a potential for a propane leak.

Although the fire has currently been contained, the Stinson gas station across the street is a cause for concern, said Koopman. Staff at the gas station confirmed the gas main and pumps have been shut off, but police say it still poses a danger.

The fire has also spread to the roof of a Royal Canadian Legion villa, and residents have left the building, police confirmed. They are also concerned about a nearby Howard Johnson hotel.

Power had to be shut off in the area around the fire, and residents living within a half-kilometre of the fire were taken to an emergency shelter at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour at the bottom of Yonge Street.

Police said residents have been asked to stay away from the current perimeter of the fire, from Concession Street to the north and west, Albert Street to the east and Dundas Street to the south.

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