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We’re trapped With Our Two Sons in a Hotel Room

Katie Piercefield-Holmes, her husband Brett, and their two sons, ages 7 and 11, from Newmarket, Suffolk, were on their second day of a family vacation at the Princess Andriana Hotel in Kiatori, Rhodes, when the journey took a dramatic turn.

On Saturday, July 22, I began the day by going to the hotel gym, but when I exited, the lobby was crowded with people carrying luggage. The staff and visitors were scurrying about, and I had no idea what was going on. My primary objective was to return to the room containing my spouse and children.

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I asked a woman I encountered along the way what was going on. She informed me, “The area is being evacuated, but the hotel has been instructed not to evacuate at this time,” to which I responded, “Oh my God, okay.”

Then, a national emergency alert arrived on our phones, instructing us to evacuate the area and proceed to the neighboring towns. However, the hotel personnel continued to insist that we remain where we were.

From adjacent hotels, we could see hundreds upon hundreds of people walking down to the beach. The fire was visible in the hills behind us, and there was thick smoke everywhere. The entire sky was orange. It was absolute pandemonium.

A few minutes later, a member of staff knocked on our door and instructed us to “Depart immediately.” My husband glanced out the hotel window at the thick smoke and hundreds of people and said, “No, we’re not taking the children into that dangerous smoke; it’s more dangerous than where we are right now.”

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Everything felt so unreal and unbelievable at this juncture. My spouse had us all change into the least flammable clothing we owned and put on our shoes so that we would be ready to evacuate if necessary. I had our passports in a waist pouch and water from the refrigerator in a backpack.

My husband filled the bathtub with water, and we placed clothes under the door on the side from which the fire would approach. Then, we stood by the French doors of our ground-floor room, prepared to dash to the beach if necessary. We estimated it would take us approximately 30 seconds to reach our destination at peak speed.

Eventually, the wind shifted and pushed the fire away from us, but a tree opposite our hotel room caught fire. It was released swiftly. Around us, other structures were ablaze, and people were putting out small flames everywhere. The kids’ area and one of the restaurants were destroyed by fire.

Ashes were cascading everywhere. It was absurd. The children were terrified and distraught, but we did our best to maintain composure in their presence.

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Staying was a difficult choice, but my husband has just retired (after 20 years) from the United States Air Force, so he is accustomed to evaluating hazardous situations and determining the safest exits.

Our eldest son has autism, and one of the things he struggles with the most is large, noisy crowds, so bringing him into that environment would have been so challenging for him, what with the smoke and everything.

The hotel manager has advised us to remain in the hotel as it is no longer safe to travel to the village, which was evacuated as the fire shifted. People inform us that the fire moved at approximately 25 kilometers per hour and caught everyone by surprise. It appeared as though things were altering minute by minute.

Our room has been ours since Saturday. Fortunately, we have WiFi. Someone from the hotel’s staff brought us bread, fruit, and water from the kitchen.

We were in a nearly vacant hotel and attempted to be as unobtrusive as possible for the accommodating staff. Given their circumstances, the first question they asked each day was, “Are you okay?” We’d be like, “Absolutely, but are YOU okay?” Is your family protected?”

One unfortunate individual was concerned because he had taken a guest’s luggage into his home in case they returned, but it had all burned down. As if he should be considering this now that his home is gone. I told the manager he was being extraordinary, but he replied, “No, we’re just being human.”

I called TUI, the company with whom we had a reservation; interacting with them has been extremely frustrating. I continued to receive generic text messages and assurances that someone would contact me shortly. Three days had passed since the evacuation of our hotel, and when I finally spoke to someone, I said, “This is exceedingly distressing. We have no idea what is occurring. We are receiving no information. We are receiving no assistance from you.”

Someone from TUI did eventually call me back, and our return flight is scheduled for Wednesday night at 11 p.m. Two days of vacation were followed by a period of survival. Anxiety, fear, and numerous tears.

TUI stated in a statement, “We realize how distressing and difficult it has been for those who were forced to evacuate their hotels and cut short their vacations in Rhodes as a result of the wildfires.

As soon as the situation escalated, we brought in a large number of additional representatives to assist, and our support teams have been working around the clock to provide assistance. They collaborated with the local authorities, who managed the urgent evacuation, to do their utmost in challenging and perilous circumstances.

“As quickly as possible, we relocated impacted customers to new hotels and brought hundreds of people home. Today, many more will return to the United Kingdom via flight, and our teams will be in contact with everyone whose return was affected.”




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