Fire rescue woman, 75, fights for life

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round. It’s just a matter of waiting to see what happens.

“We all hope she’s going to be alright. I still can’t believe what has happened, I only saw her at teatime the day before and she was fine.”

Other residents of the Hawksley Close cul-de-sac were woken in the early hours by the sound of banging and realised firefighters were smashing their way through the front door of Mrs Bannister’s bungalow.

“There was such a commotion and then a big belch of black smoke came out when they opened the door,” said Mrs Smith.

Another neighbour, Margaret Davies, said: “I saw them working on her outside and I thought, ‘I hope to God she’s alive’.

“She was outside on the ground for ages and all I could hear were the firemen shouting, ‘Come on, Hazel, wake up’. Then she must have come round.

“I understand her fire alarm went off and that was how they knew there was a fire.”

Sanctuary Housing Association staff were yesterday assessing the damage, which was mainly confined to the lounge.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they believed Mrs Bannister had been asleep on the sofa when the fire started, probably due to smoking materials.

Investigators believe she may have woken up and made it to the kitchen to get some water to fight the fire before she was overcome by the smoke and collapsed.

Mrs Bannister, a retired OAP warden, has lived in her property for 14 years, neighbours said.