On Saturday, 2 October 2021, around 2:00 a.m., a fire of significant proportions was reported in the municipality of Guanaja, Department of Islas de la Bahía, located 70 km north of the Honduran coast and 12 km from the island of Roatan with an approximate population of 6,000 inhabitants. The incident occurred in the town known as "El Cayo", the main population center of the municipality and where the municipal offices, health center, banks, and other commercial and government buildings are located. To date, the causes of the fire are still unclear. There was no Fire Department in the affected areas. Therefore, there was not a speedy response to the incident. According to reports from the Permanent Contingency Commission (COPECO), the fire was 100% controlled around 11:00 a.m. on 2 October, thanks to the deployment of firefighters from the near island of Roatan (located between the islands of Útila and Guanaja) and the regions near the coast of the country of La Ceiba and Tegucigalpa, including members of the Honduran Naval Force and Air Force, which provided boats and helicopters to quell the spread of the fire. There is a long distance, between Guanaja and the main cities; hence supporting a speedy response was not possible (Guanaja – La Ceiba 123 km, Guanaja – Tegucigalpa 299 km).
Due to the proximity of the houses and wood as main construction material, the fire spread quickly, affecting approximately half of the territorial extension of El Cayo. The first reports indicated that the consequences of the event account for a total population of approximately 4,000 people broadly affected (2,500 directly affected), more than 500 evacuees, 90 homes destroyed, 136 homes damaged and 3 injured who were transferred by air to the University School Hospital located in Tegucigalpa; no deaths have been reported.
According to preliminary reports on the ground, some shelters were set up in the sector by the Guanaja Municipal Emergency Committee. However, only two people have been registered in them since most of the inhabitants have sought to move to other temporary places in communities inside or outside the municipality. The affected population has sought accommodation through houses of relatives, close people, hotels, and others. On the other hand, the central and municipal government has announced that it will begin as soon as possible the cleaning actions in the area that include the demolition and removal of those buildings that have suffered serious damage and could not be rehabilitated. (IFRC, 11 Oct 2021)
A state of emergency and calamity has been declared for Guanaja, while national authorities are assisting the affected population with aid and relief items. (ECHO, 05 Oct 2021)