More than 50 firefighters tackled Reading fire for four hours

The Health and Safety Executive has begun an investigation into the fire which broke out at a Sir Robert McAlpine site in Reading last week.

In an update, Royal Berkshire fire and rescue service said the site had been handed over to the HSE to investigate the cause of the fire.

It said 50 firefighters from across the county were on the scene last Thursday for just over our hours which saw two people rescued by a crane and taken to hospital.

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More than 50 firefighters were sent to tackle last Thursday’s blaze

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.”

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.”

The first phase of the project, One Station Hill, comprises 600 homes and according to McAlpine’s website is due to complete soon.

A second phase began work last spring with the overall £750m development for developer Lincoln MGT including 625,000 sq ft of office space, 1,300 private and affordable homes and 95,000 sq ft of retail and leisure space.