An incredible story of courage and bravery has emerged of 45-year-old lieutenant, Andreas Triantafilidis, a father of two little girls, who risked his life to save his parents and seven others during the deadly fires in Mati.
Andreas Triantaphyllidis was at work when he received a call from his father, "I was informed by my parents, who are in their 80's that there was a fire nearby and that they saw smoke everywhere. I was at work in Kifissia and after I left straight away and took the Attiki Odos and arrived at Pikermi, which was closed to traffic."
Andreas told Protothema.gr, there was no way he could leave his parents and friends there, "I went to Loutsa and headed towards Rafina beach, where I realised that I couldn't go any further" said the 45-year-old commander.
Without a second thought, he left his car and started hiking to his home, which was over four kilometers away and by this time the fire was burning everything around him.
"I got the fire extinguisher and a bottle of water and started hiking to come to Mati to find them. The firefighters did not stop me, it was chaos, a car had closed the road at the entrance of Rafina. When I arrived there were burning houses to the right and left, it was hell. I began to wonder if the choice I made was right. I continued my journey and as I got in, it was worse," he explains.
As Andreas approached the centre, he met a man on a motorbike and together they began walking further until they arrived at the beach.
"There the most shocking images began, as all the cars were burned and destroyed, I finally reached my parent's place and found them alive. I took them to the sea and told them to stay there while I try and save more people."
"Holding a flashlight and a few bottles of water in my bag I started walking to see who I could help. I encouraged people to go to the beach without fear and to try and stay calm. I went and found young children who had burned their legs and could not walk. I put a small one on my back because they had burned feet and held other children's hands. I tried to take them to safe spots. I cried because no one else had come to help them, they saw me as some kind of authority, but I explained to them that I was a civilian like them but I was there to help, "he said.
"I carried about seven or eight people to beaches and safe spots and as we were walking all we could see ahead was death. I tried to encourage the wounded and the shocked by telling them all is okay but when I turned my back I cried, you can not imagine the disaster, with so many people helpless and dead. "