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25 June, 2024
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Greek heroes aid fleeing tourists in Rhodes' wildfires

Locals offered water, food, and shelter to a family with three children

Source: BBC

A family that escaped the wildfires in Greece has spoken of the speed at which they watched the blaze spread.

Tommy and Chloe Vincent from Preston were on their first family holiday abroad with their three children aged six, four, and 21 months.

"On Saturday morning we were chilling out," Mr Vincent said. "And by Saturday lunchtime we were on the beach, trying to escape a fire."

"I kind of feel like we got all the help from the Greek people and I feel like I've almost abandoned them that helped us"

But he praised the people of Rhodes who "couldn't do enough for us".

The family had been on holiday since Wednesday on the Greek island that has been battling wildfires since Tuesday.

They could see the fires from the hotel in Faliraki where they were staying.

Mr. Vincent said: "It's amazing how quickly it changed. It was a lovely morning around the kids' pool, which is the top section of the hotel, but the smoke was coming directly overhead. And I noticed the ash falling on one of my children that was asleep.

"So I said to the wife, maybe we should get further down so the kids aren't breathing this in and by the time we packed our bags and got to the other side of the pool, the first helicopter had flown overhead, started picking up water from the sea and was heading back.

"By the time we got to our room, we could then see flames, which within, I'd say two minutes, probably quadrupled in size and then there were multiple helicopters overhead really low.

"It was dramatic, there was very thick smoke."

Mrs. Vincent said local people were rallying around to help the tourists.

She said: "They've been giving us free water, free food for the babies and actively rescuing us.

"A family opened up their apartment for us, they came to the evacuation center, they met us there, they saw us with our young children and they said to come to our homes, you can stay as long as you need."

Thousands of holidaymakers have landed back in the UK following the wildfires with more repatriation flights set to take place.

The Vincent family has also now returned to Lancashire but said they would go back to Rhodes.

"We've come back to a comfy family home and the people of Rhodes have lost their livelihoods, they lost their farmyard their vineyards, it's just awful for them," Mrs Vincent said.

"Once we de-traumatize and de-stress, we will return to Rhodes to visit, especially to visit the people who took us in."

"I kind of feel like we got all the help from the Greek people and I feel like I've almost abandoned them that helped us," her husband said. "I wish we could do something more than just say thank you."

Cyprus  |  family  |  tourists  |  Rhodes  |  fires  |  blaze

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