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Major fire breaks out in Kingston, Ontario

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Digital writers
theweathernetwork.com

Wednesday, December 18, 2013, 7:20 AM -

A propane explosion is the apparent cause of a major fire that erupted at Princess and Victoria streets in Kingston Tuesday afternoon.

Flames quickly engulfed a complex in mid-construction, leaving a worker stranded on a crane.

A CFB Trenton helicopter swooped in to rescue the man in a daring rescue that left witnesses speechless. 

(Rob Harmon)

(Rob Harmon)

The worker was virtually unscathed, sustaining only minor burns.

A home near the complex also caught fire Tuesday afternoon, raising fears the flames could spread to other buildings and a nearby gas station.

Large chunks of hot debris spewed from the fire as officials issued frantic public warnings to keep a distance of at least two blocks. Electricity was cut off in the affected area and nearby residents were quickly evacuated via city buses.

By Tuesday evening, smoke could still be seen billowing from the complex, although officials said the blaze was "largely under control" by 5:10 p.m.

Even though firefighters got the blaze under control, they were still battling some hot spots late into the night. One major concern is the stability of the crane towering above the charred work site. 

Around 6:40 p.m., Kingston Mayor Mark Gerretsen tweeted there were concerns that the massive crane would fall over following hours of exposure to extreme heat and police officials said the crane was "structurally unstable." 

"Arrangements have been made for an engineer to assess the stability of the crane," said a statement posted to the City of Kingston website at 7:15 p.m. "There is a wide area power outage in this area and it will remain out until crews can access the area to determine the extent of the damage and for reasons of safety."

Residents are hoping to return home on Wednesday after being evacuated Tuesday. They were told to spend the night with families or in an evacuation centre that was set up at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. 

Kingston's Ambassador Hotel was also offering a special rate of $49/night to people who had been displaced by the fire.

There have been no fatalities reported, and all construction workers at the scene of the fire are said to be accounted for.

With files from The Canadian Press

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