Gran survives sunbed blaze

Lesley Sellars has told how she narrowly escaped with her life when the sunbed she was in at Banana Beach, Halifax, caught fire
Lesley Sellars has told how she narrowly escaped with her life when the sunbed she was in at Banana Beach, Halifax, caught fire

A great-grandmother has told of her amazing escape after being on a sunbed which caught fire.

Lesley Sellars, 64, was at Banana Beach tanning salon on Southgate when the sunbed she was using burst into flames due to an electrical fault and she narrowly avoided severe burns.

Mrs Sellars, of Halifax, said: “I only just got outside in time. At first I felt okay but then I saw all the smoke and I just went to pieces.

“The reality of what happened hit me and I burst into tears.”

Mrs Sellars said she first realised something was amiss when she heard a clanking noise, but being deaf in one ear she struggled to tell where it had come from.

“Then I heard an almighty bang and when I looked up there were flames coming through the panels above my head.”
Mrs Sellars tried to throw open the heavy canopy above her but couldn’t and in her desperation managed to throw her body sideways onto the floor.

Banana Beach, Southgate, Halifax.

Banana Beach, Southgate, Halifax.

“I just thought, I’ve got to get out of here,” she said.

Another customer, Julie Robinson, who was in the salon at the time of the fire said she instantly knew that something was wrong.

“There was a really funny feeling. It felt like all the air was being sucked out of the room.

“The smell was so acrid, it was vile. I thought, there’s something really wrong here and then I saw this absolutely thick black smoke covering the top of the sunbed.”

Mrs Sellars shouted for the staff, who alerted other customers while she ran upstairs and out of the salon.

Luckily everyone in the building escaped unharmed as thick smoke started to fill the underground room.

Five fire engines arrived and firefighters were sent in four at a time with breathing apparatus to try and stem the blaze.

Station Officer Broadbent, of West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said at the scene: “The firefighters who went in first did a brilliant job. It’s like a rabbit warren down there: you can’t see your own hand in front of your face and it’s very hot. It’s extremely disorientating.”

All the shops in the precinct were evacuated as smoke started spreading into their basements from the neighbouring premises.

Officer Broadbent said: “Luckily the fire hasn’t spread to any of the other shops, but there’s a hell of a lot of smoke damage.”

After hours of fighting, the blaze was put out and extraction fans were used to clear the smoke, which was still pouring onto the busy shopping street.

Mrs Sellars’ daughter Ellie says her mum is still shaken by what happened. “I’ve noticed her going off and having trembles,” she said.

Banana Beach has now closed their Halifax branch. An announcement on their Facebook page read: “It is with a sad heart that we announce the closure of the Halifax salon due to the recent fire and we are truly thankful that no one was hurt.

“We would also like to thank Nicky Higgins, our customer service agent, for her calmness and bravery that ensured everyone exited the salon safely.”

The company’s director, Andrew Carr, said: “I’m incredibly sad because we’ve been in the centre of Halifax for more than a decade.

“I just want people to be reassured that once we do open again we will honour our customers’ loyalty.”