The cay that caught fire in Honduras is still adjusting to life after a huge blaze ruined the resort, ravaging more than 200 homes and businesses and forcing hundreds of residents to flee with only the clothes on their backs.
Dramatic video shared on social media showed rows of seaside properties engulfed in flames and collapsing in Guanaja, 44 miles (70km) off the north coast of Honduras. The fire broke out before dawn and residents struggled to bring it under control, as the cay does not have a fire service.
Helicopters hovered over the fire and poured water over the most raging fire areas. At least five people were injured in the blaze from smoke inhalation, which began in the early hours of Saturday, officials said. Thankfully, there appears no loss of life so far. Many fled to the mountainside for safety.
It's unclear how the fire started but rumours are that a lighted candle fell, caught fire and got out of control. As the houses are so condensed it was easy for the fire to jump from one building to another. There are many Caymanians who have family and personal connections to the cay called Bonacca, which is about 300 metres from Guanaja, so it has caused immense concern locally. As well as shops and houses, a church and the Seventh Day Adventist school were damaged too. Frantic attempts were being made to prevent the fire reaching a gas station.
Guanaja is one of the country’s three picturesque Islas de la Bahia, or Bay Islands, famed for its dolphins and big coral reef popular with snorkelers and divers. The others are Roatan and Utila.
Emergency services from Roatan moved quickly to provide food, water, medical supplies and clothing for residents, many of whom have lost absolutely everything. Initially they’re having to live on the streets and temporary shelters. A local resident said that the last fire of this magnitude was in 1978.
Appeals have gone out for donations and there has been an immense response, especially from the Cayman Islands. Boats are able to operate which means that those who can be evacuated will get a chance to move elsewhere for the time being.
Government minister Max Gonzales said on Saturday afternoon: "We can confirm that we have no human losses, but vast material losses. The fire is 100 percent controlled now. We set up two refuges, in a school and a church, and they are working on humanitarian aid, which will arrive very soon on the island for those affected.”
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