Dozens of tourists were forced to flee from a fire in Lapland as it ripped through the log cabins they were staying in.
British holidaymakers were enjoying a Christmas trip to visit Santa when the blaze broke out at Hotel Iso-Syöte in Pudasjärvi, Finland, at 1:30am on Thursday (December 20).
Michelle Courtney was one of those forced out by the fire after she had travelled to Finland with her husband Ben and their four children, 14-year-old George, 11-year-old Kitty and seven-year-old twins Scout and Hughie.
The family had already faced delays at Heathrow Airport ahead of their holiday and were only at the resort for a few hours before they had to escape from the cabin into the minus 10 degree temperatures outside. Thankfully they are all safe.
Take a look at terrifying footage of the huge blaze here:
Arrived in Lapland, edge of Arctic Circle. Hotel immediately burned down. (All OK.) pic.twitter.com/NEA0JqlvK7
— Lucy Berrington (@LucyBerrington) December 21, 2018
The mother spoke to the Mirror about how they had spent £10,000 on the once-in-a-lifetime trip, which had ended up ruining their dream Christmas.
Explaining exactly what happened, Michelle said:
This was our dream trip, we’d already been delayed at Heathrow but we were so happy when we got there because the hotel was absolutely stunning, it was so beautiful.
We got there quite late so it was about half eight Finnish time when we had our dinner and the restaurant was just gorgeous. It was dark when we got there but from what we could see it had incredible views out over the slopes.
We were staying in one of the cabins and at around 1:30 in the morning people came around banging on the doors saying there was a fire.
Our hotel caught fire last night. We are all fine, we were in wooden cabins nearby and everyone in the actual building got out thank god. Apparently fire engines were coming from two hours away (we’re staying on the edge of the Arctic circle and it’s pretty remote) pic.twitter.com/lDU4fQFde9
— Sarah 🎄🎄🎄⛄️⛄️⛄️🤶🤶🤶 (@cautionspoilers) December 21, 2018
The Brit went on to explain how at first it didn’t seem like the fire was too much to worry about, but once they saw the size of the flames they knew it was serious.
Initially they made it seem like it wasn’t much of a fire but then we had to evacuate. Seeing the fire was quite harrowing, especially for the children – it was like a fireball.
It took ages for the fire brigade to get there because it’s so remote and by that stage the whole hotel was engulfed in flames.
Planning to give her kids a truly magical Christmas, Michelle had taken presents for them along with her on the trip but they were all engulfed by the fire.
— Ben McDonald (@EnterpriseBen) December 21, 2018
I had given the reps the presents but they were lost in the fire. The lady from Nordic Experience is trying so hard to sort everyone out but it’s out of their control.
We’ve been moved to another hotel and hoping to enjoy the rest of our trip.
It was really scary, we’re just so happy everyone is safe.
Those who helped raise awareness for the fire and get everyone out safely did an incredible job; hopefully the tourists will still be able to enjoy their Christmases.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.