Brit family in Corfu describe holiday horror after returning from dinner to ‘bank of flames coming down the hillside’

A British family was compelled to flee in the center of the night time as the wildfires ravaging elements of Greece broke out in Corfu on Sunday night and got here inside metres of their holiday dwelling.

Rebecca Bell, 50, of Sheffield, was amongst those that obtained an evacuation order by way of a textual content message in a single day as dozens of blazes erupted on the western island, with greater than 2,000 folks moved to security.

“It did really feel like the finish of the world yesterday,” she advised The Impartial from the village of Sinies, describing the depth of the warmth, “banks of flames” cascading down the hillside, and a “yellow glow of hearth” in the sky.

Rebecca Bell, 50, of Sheffield

(Rebecca Bell)

The blaze broke out in the northern half of Corfu, which is in style with British vacationers, on Sunday night, with these in Sinies, Santa, Megoula, Porta and Palia Perithia advised to evacuate to Kasiopi.

Firefighters have struggled via the night time to include 82 wildfires throughout Greece, 64 of which began on Sunday, the hottest day of the summer time to date, amid sturdy winds and successive heatwaves pushed by the local weather disaster.

Essentially the most severe hearth was on the island of Rhodes, the place 19,000 folks had been evacuated from a number of places as wildfires burned for a sixth day, Greek authorities mentioned, in what was “the largest evacuation from a wildfire in the nation”.

Ms Bell, who works for a know-how firm, arrived at their rented villa in Sinies on Friday along with her husband, Mat Pennell, their 18-year-old daughter, and the teenager’s buddy for the family’s two-week summer time holiday.

Vacationers are sheltered in a stadium after being evacuated following a wildfire on the island of Rhodes, Greece

(by way of REUTERS)

They had been all about to depart for dinner on Sunday night after they obtained the evacuation order. However, unable to see flames, solely smoke, and reassured by the villa proprietor, they determined to proceed with their night plans.

It was after they received into the automotive after consuming and tried to return to the villa that was the most horrifying second, she mentioned. “We noticed banks of flames coming down the hillside and realised it was severe.”

The roads to the village had been shut and police cordons had been in place, however the family had been allowed to accumulate their passports from the villa. “We packed up in 10 minutes and threw every thing into the automotive,” mentioned Ms Bell. “I’ve by no means packed a bag that shortly in my life.

A normal view of a wildfire burning on the Pantokratoras mountain on Corfu island, Greece


“Once we had been up there by the villa it was scorching, you could possibly really feel the warmth. The fireplace was maybe about 400 metres from our villa.”

She spoke of big hearth and water vehicles driving up the hill as they had been coming again down.

The family went to the evacuation level Kasiopi however mentioned there was nothing occurring there, so that they sat in the automotive till about 2am after they realised they’d not be making it again to the villa that night time.

“It felt bizarre driving round like, ‘What will we do now?’ It was weird, very catastrophe movie-esque,” mentioned Ms Bell.

They spoke with a neighborhood businessperson who let the family keep in his dwelling for the night time. “As a result of we had rented privately it was down to us to work out our subsequent transfer, and we ended up with some variety strangers,” Ms Bell mentioned. “My husband and I slept on the couch in the man’s front room, which was tremendous variety and wonderful to be so welcoming to folks in such a loopy scenario.”

A firefighting helicopter drops water to extinguish a wildfire, in Diakopto, Egio, Greece


She mentioned they didn’t sleep an enormous quantity and heard helicopters presumably dropping water on the hillside at dawn.

The family managed to make it again to the villa on Monday morning, shortly earlier than receiving a textual content message that suggested folks to return to their lodging as “the scenario is below management and the hearth is receding”.

Ms Bell mentioned smoke can nonetheless be seen rising in the hills however the yellow glow of hearth has been changed by clear skies. “The fireplace regarded fairly shut to the villa, however nothing has burned,” she mentioned, including: “Security first, however I’m very glad the holiday plans didn’t go to rack and spoil.”

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