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‘They couldn’t find their way’: The Greek ‘dream house’ where 26 people lost their lives

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Two days on, Jason Fragos says he still feels numb.

The coastal villa his family owns, the "dream house" in the Greek village of Mati where he spent his childhood, is now known the world over as the spot where 26 people burned to death while hugging one another.

It's the most devastating scene of what are now perhaps the most devastating fires in Greece's recent history.

The flames, he says, came "quickly from all directions" and as people fled, the small road outside the house became clogged.

"So, we opened the gates and we led a group of 30 people down the way to the beach — they were rescued," he says.

"I hope they are now all okay."

The villa where 26 people died when a fire ripped through Mila, Greece.

But unbeknownst to him or his family, the 26 others, including several children, later tried to follow.

They made it through the gate and ended up trapped between burning trees and a cliff.

"They couldn't find their way … there was no light, there was smoke everywhere and they tried to find refuge in the house, which was totally burnt," he says.

"A young lady jumped [off the cliff] trying to save her life. But she didn't make it.

"Even now they've taken the bodies away, the scene is still not nice. The images are heartbreaking."

People were trapped by flames as they tried to escape a villa.

'I've never felt like this before': Red Cross veteran

Vasilios Andriopoulous was one member of a Red Cross team that found the bodies.

He says he's witnessed many things during previous fires, floods and earthquakes.

But going inside the villa "was one of the most tragic moments of my life".

"I've never felt like this before … there were groups or five and four people hugged all together," he says.

"They were actually families, they hugged their kids and they were kneeling on the ground, trying to protect their own kids and themselves from the fire."

Vasilios Andriopoulous says going into the villa was one of the most tragic moments of his life.

The work of his team and several army units is far from over.

They are going house to house, street by street, searching and "expecting" to find more bodies on "both land and sea".

Grief turning to anger in Greece

The top half of Fani Papadimitriou's house is completely destroyed.

As the flames suddenly appeared, she feared her grandchildren were going to die.

She begins to shed tears while she shares her story of survival.

"I have lost my son two years [ago] so I had his two children and I said 'oh God, I cannot'," she says.

"I had strength to say, 'I'm going to live and we are going to be safe'."

Fani Papadimitriou in her home at Mali that was completely destroyed when a fire ripped through the area.

Mrs Papadimitriou jumped in a car and avoided the centre of Mati, where so many people became caught in the small streets.

The obvious grief in this small holiday village is starting to turn to anger — the locals want to know who started the fires.

But they are also furious there wasn't a better evacuation plan and that so many got stuck.

"There was no evacuation plan whatsoever," Mr Fragos tells me.

"Not enough warning, no plan and no way out."

Soldiers on the streets of Mati in the wake of the devastating fire that killed dozens of people.

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