TRIBUTES have been paid to a “loyal employee,” after a Bangor taxi driver died following a house fire at his home in Bethesda.

Mike Beeby, who worked for Tryfyan Cabs, has been named locally as the man who died following the fire at his home at Erw Las, Coetmor Road, on Tuesday morning.

The North Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called by his next door neighbour Dilwyn Jones. Mr Jones, who lives in the adjoining semi-detached house, had just returned home at about 10.30am.

“I could smell and saw smoke coming up from the direction of some gadgets and electrical equipment. I thought maybe there was some sort of electrical fire in my house, so I called the fire brigade.

“It was only when I went outside to meet the fire engine crew we saw smoke coming from my neighbour’s, Mike Beeby’s roof, and the feelings changed as I realised he works as a taxi driver on nights and was possibly in the house. I never saw much of him, because he worked nights, but he has lived there for many years.

“I saw heavy smoke, for a brief period I saw flames coming from a smashed window. The emergency services put up a screen while they worked on him and he was taken to hospital in the air ambulance.

Gareth Birkett, manager at the Bangor-based Tryfan Cabs firm, said: “We are all shocked, it’s a big shock. Mike worked for us for about 20 years. he was well liked, some of the regulars will be shocked and saddened. He was a very loyal employee to us, and our condolences go to his family.”

Two appliances from Bangor and Llanberis were mobilised to the incident, and four sets of breathing apparatus and two hose reel jets were used to tackle the fire which was confined mainly to the ground floor.

Mr Beeby, who was in his 50s, was treated at the scene for critical injuries and flown by air ambulance to hospital in Stoke.

According to the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service: “Shortly after 10.40am yesterday morning, Tuesday June 5, emergency services attended the report of a house fire in Coetmor Road, Bethesda.

“The fire was brought under control, but sadly the lone male occupant, a local man in his 50s, did not survive and passed away in hospital. His next of kin are aware.

“North Wales Police and North Wales Fire and Rescue Service are conducting a joint investigation to establish the cause of the fire although at this stage we do not believe it is suspicious.

“Part of that investigation will include speaking with members of the community who may have been in the area at the time, so I would ask that if you can assist in this investigation contact Police on 101.”

A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesperson said: “We were called on Tuesday June 5, at approximately 11.05am, to reports of a fire at a property on Erw Las, Coetmor Road, Bethesda in Bangor.

“We responded with two rapid response vehicles, one emergency ambulance and an air ambulance. A man was taken by air ambulance to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.”

Gavin Roberts from North Wales Fire and Rescue Service said: “Crews responded quickly to tackle the fire and emergency services worked well together to attend to the casualty and manage the incident.”