At least 200 people were evacuated after a crane on a high-rise building in Sydney caught fire before its jib collapsed.

According to local media, witnesses looked up to see the crane on fire and swaying violently on top of the University of Technology  building, shortly before its arm came crashing down.

The crane's driver managed to escape without injury.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said the crane was owned by construction company Lend Lease, the same company which owned a crane that collapsed in New York City during Hurricane Sandy.

The fire stopped traffic in nearby streets and billowing black smoke could be seen across the central business district.