A personal trainer who was one of four Britons caught breaching police checkpoints to take selfies near the erupting volcano on La Palma has revealed they were trying to save stranded dogs.
Seb Jones, 33, told MailOnline he and his muscled friends Andy Flavell, Tom Whaite and Zack Hurley, responded to social media campaigns to rescue the animals trapped near the flowing lava and rushed to save them.
But their apparent mercy mission was thwarted when falling ash and smoke started to burn and suffocate the would-be rescuers and they failed to see a single dog before they were intercepted by police.
The intrepid explorers now face possible court action for putting their lives and those of the security services at risk according to local media.
Seb, who also owns Oldham Driveways, said: ‘Me and my friends are all big animal lovers, especially dogs and we saw on social media about all the petitions to get the dogs out of El Paso and how they’d been left.
Seb Jones (pictured), 33, who was one of four Britons caught breaching police checkpoints to take selfies near the erupting volcano on La Palma has revealed they were trying to save stranded dogs
The group responded to social media campaigns to rescue the animals trapped near the flowing lava and rushed to save them, Seb (right) revealed
‘We are all strong hikers and adventurers, we liked the thought of the volcano so it was perfect for us.
‘We knew we could get in and get close. But we definitely underestimated the extent of the damage and how hard it would actually turn out to be.’
The quartet posed for photos right next to the rivers of the molten lava spewing from the Cumbre Viejo volcano which has been erupting for over a month.
They had left a holiday home in Tenerife to travel to La Palma via ferry which was delayed by three hours, leaving them unable to scope out the trek in daylight.
Seb said: ‘As soon as we landed off the ferry we drove our hired car to the affected area of La Palma, the sky was was blood red and you could hear the roar of the volcano over the car’s engine as you drove toward the town.’
The intrepid explorers now face possible court action for putting their lives and those of the security services at risk according to local media
After four hours they arrived at the base of the volcano where the ground was trembling beneath their feet, according to Seb
The gym fan said the roads were thick with ash even six miles away from the volcano and they kept on encountering road blocks and army patrols so decided to ditch the car and walk by foot through the woods.
Seb revealed: ‘The energy coming off the volcano was like something out of a film, it was a rush and it gave us that extra bit of encouragement we needed for the rescue mission ahead.’
The group hiked for two hours through the forest where they had to wade through ash up to three feet deep, according to the animal vigilante.
They stayed on the roads but struggled to find any dogs but were then startled to be confronted by torches being shone in their faces by the Spanish patrols
He said they posed for occasional photos whenever they saw an eruption, describing the scenes as ‘hell on earth’.
After four hours they arrived at the base of the volcano where the ground was trembling beneath their feet, according to Seb.
He said: ‘The air was was thick like bleach or something, you couldn’t breathe it in, we were all choking on it.
‘Obviously unprepared for the real danger we were in, we wrapped T-shirts around our faces and ventured up the hill towards the erupting volcano core!
‘Everytime the volcano erupted, heavy ash rained down from the sky burning any bare skin it hit. At this point we were taking cover under what was left of the burnt trees that still stood standing on the volcano itself, just to get out of the ash fall. This was the danger zone!’
Rocks crashed around them and they finally decided to abandon their ambitious rescue mission.
People watch as Cumbre Vieja volcano spews lava and smoke while it continues to erupt on Friday
Lava is continuing to flow through the island more than a month after the volcano first erupted
Two people watch the volcano eruption from the municipality of El Paso on Friday, a week after the quartet attempted their rescue mission
Seb recalled: ‘We were really struggling to breathe at this point so we took our final photos and headed down toward the houses that still stood to continue our search for the abandoned dogs of El Paso.
‘When we got to the road at the bottom, you could actually hear faint sounds of dogs yelping and barking from every direction. Some sounded close, some far but everything is overpowered by the constant roar of the volcano.’
They stayed on the roads but struggled to find any dogs but were then startled to be confronted by torches being shone in their faces by the Spanish patrols.
Seb said: ‘They had guns on them and full respirator type face masks on. They were being aggressive and lined us up against a wall, screaming at us in broken English we couldn’t really understand what they were saying.
‘There were four of us and two of them so we started shining torches back in their faces which seemed to shock them and they kind of backed off.
Since September 19, more than 2,000 buildings, and 1,300 homes, have been lost due to the eruption
Approximately 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island out of a population of some 83,000
‘We are all well built, but we know we aren’t above the law, we thought we were under arrest so once it all calmed down we complied with them explained what we were doing and that we have obviously got lost,
‘They threatened to take our passports and marched us straight back out of the exclusion zone.’
They managed to find their car on Google maps which was by now a two-hour walk away, leaving them little time to catch the ferry back to Tenerife.
Despite their run-in with the law, Seb said he had no regrets over their unsuccessful rescue mission for the dogs.
He said: ‘The walk home was long and hard, exhausted and disappointed about the dogs, but we actually couldn’t believe we had climbed and witnessed an active volcano.
‘It is indescribable the amount of energy and power that comes from that volcano. You can see how much destruction it has done to island.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had previously said he would help rebuild the island, adding that it was safe for tourists to visit
Since the authorities started investigating, the ‘lava louts’ have boasted about being wanted by police
‘Miles long and miles wide of just molten lava as far as your eyes can see. It’s madness, everything is black with ash, everything is dead. The air is poisonous.’
After their return, the group posted photos of their trip online, saying: ‘We had to cover to sneak round the army and police. It was a full SAS mission with roadblocks, search points and animals to dog in pitch black.’
The close-up footage and photos the group took are understood to have been used by Civil Guard officers in La Palma to identify the daredevil group.
Since the authorities started investigating, the ‘lava louts’ have boasted about being wanted by police.
Zack wrote online: ‘F** me I’m Spain’s most wanted now, all over the local news. Honestly now these men want to have a MINUTE!
‘I’ve been receiving pure s*** for two days now, death threats the lot, wishing me Mam dead and telling me I have a square head hahaha.
Thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed in the devastation, the first eruption on the island since 1971
‘I said to them “I’ve not f***ing lit it, I just went up for a look” ……. I wasn’t laughing or disrespectful, it’s a wonder of the world at the end of the day.’
Security doorman Andy Flavell from Durham, said online: ‘La Palma’s most wanted, listen yeah we didn’t hurt anyone or any animals, or did we put out any emergency services nothing. We didn’t lite [sic] the volcano or make it worse.
‘Just wanted to witness mother nature doing her thing with our own eyes, and we did!
‘Been receiving pure hate.. now this was one week ago we went to La Palma.. I’m sure they have more to be dealing with than us 4 who went LAST WEEK.’
Since September 19, more than 2,000 buildings, and 1,300 homes, have been lost due to the eruption as locals warn of an impending aid crisis striking at the heart of their community.
Approximately 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island out of a population of some 83,000.
MailOnline has contacted the Guardia Civil for comment.