Hundreds flee as fire ravages Honduras island of Guanaja

People flee by boat after a huge fire devastated homes and businesses on the Caribbean island.

Aerial view of Guanaja island after a fire on October 2, 2021 [Lester Carias/ AFP]

A huge fire has destroyed or damaged scores of houses and businesses on the Honduran island of Guanaja and forced hundreds of residents to flee for safety.

Dramatic video footage shared on social media on Saturday showed rows of seaside houses engulfed in flames and wooden homes collapsing on Guanaja, which is about 70 kilometres (44 miles) off the north coast of Honduras.

At least 400 people fled the island by boat to save themselves from the fire, the El Heraldo news website reported, as the Honduran Air Force dropped water on the island to douse the flames.

Footage taken after the blaze was brought under control showed dozens of concrete houses with no roofs and windows.

“We can confirm that we have no human losses but vast material losses,” said Max Gonzales, minister of the National System for Risk Management and National Contingencies agency.

Four people were injured in the blaze, which destroyed 90 houses and damaged another 120, including some used by businesses, Gonzales said.

The fire broke out before dawn and residents struggled to bring it under control as the island does not have a firefighting service.

The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear.

“At the moment, we need help with everything – food, water and oxygen tanks,” said Mireya Guillen, the island’s deputy mayor.

Guanaja is one of the country’s three picturesque Bay Islands, where snorkelers and divers come to see dolphins and a big coral reef.

Its 6,000 inhabitants live mainly off income from tourism.

Source: News Agencies