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Hero dad drives into Rhodes wildfire danger zone six times to rescue families
July 24, 2023
A heroic dad risked his own life to save others caught in the Rhodes wildfires, returning to the danger zone in his hire car six times.
Jonathan Lewis, 62, spent eight hours rescuing families from flames on the Greek island, where he had been holidaying with his own family before fires broke out last week.
"People were saying 'it's only a bit of smoke' and not to worry," he said. "But I thought it was more than just a little smoke. And I'm not much of a fan of sunbathing anyway, so I thought I would see if I could help."
READ MORE: 'My five-year-old asked if we would die as Rhodes wildfire inferno raged behind us'
On Saturday (July 22) Jonathan headed towards Lardos in the rental car. He described it as like driving into "the end of the world" with buildings ablaze and families fleeing.
"I saw some people getting their luggage and dropping it as they ran to the beach as the brush at the side caught fire," he said.
Jonathan then stopped to pick up a family and raced them back to safety, the first of several rescue trips he carried out.
He also spotted tourist boats landing on beaches to take people to safety. He said: "I picked up an Austrian man and he just burst into tears. He told me he had put his wife and children on the boat as he watched it disappear into the smoke that sat on the surface."
At one point his car's thermometer reached a staggering 45C. "The cyclical wind fanned the flames and made the fire so much stronger. It was absolute chaos," he added.
Jonathan explained the army eventually arrived to help out, although the chaos continued as "nobody seemed to be in charge".
He said: "Buses were stopping and queuing a mile down the road from where all the people were. So I kept weaving through car parks, getting as many in the car as I could, taking them up the hill and going back.
"I just wanted to help people get out. It's common sense."
Jonathan and his family were evacuated from their resort at 1am on Sunday morning (July 23). They were luckily able to find another hotel room and are now awaiting a flight home.
Roughly 19,000 have been evacuated from Rhodes thus far.
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