The Volcano of Fire in Guatemala has sent hundreds to shelters as it erupts in lava and flowing ash.
The Volcano of Fire (Yes, that’s its name) is one of the most active volcanoes in Central America, standing over 12,000 feet tall just 10 miles west of busy Antigua. It has been in a state of constant activity for decades, spitting gas and ash in small eruptions more than hourly, but larger eruptions are less frequent. A historical record of eruptions going back over 440 years shows that its eruptions are changing – they used to be primarily earthquakes with ash plumes but, beginning in the 1970s, they have usually included heavy pyroclastic flow.
The most recent destructive eruption from the Volcano of Fire was just a few years ago. In June 2018, an eruption of ash and melted stone caused landslides of boiling mud that killed a confirmed 159, with 256 people never found. Locals disagree with the official records, saying over 2000 people were buried. Seismologists warned of the possible eruption eight hours before it happened, but the Guatemalan national disaster agency waited three hours to send out evacuation warnings and made the evacuation voluntary instead of mandatory.
On the evening of September 23, the volcano erupted again. The ejected ash plume has reached miles into the atmosphere. The ash and low-risk pyroclastic flows continued until Tuesday March 8. In the early evening, an ‘intense explosion‘ could be heard for miles, signaling the collapse of the lava cone built by the ongoing eruption. Two lava flows resulted, going down the side of the massive cone and threatening those living on the slopes.
Approximately 500 people have been evacuated from the countryside into the nearby town of Escuintla, which has opened shelters for them. Seismologists report that after the large explosion, eruption activity is diminishing.