Thursday, January 12, 2017

Forest Fire at Lake Atitlan

A forest fire started up on the hills last week, apparently because some dummies were burning garbage at a garbage dump that was supposed to have been decommissioned several years ago. Who burns garbage in the dry season? And with such high winds??
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala
A picture I took from Jucanya of the fire coming down the hills. (January 9)
Expats, Kat & Steve, owners of La Fortuna Lodge, became very alarmed when the fire started coming down the ridge towards their property. They called all the proper authorities -- Sololá Bomberos (firefighters), CONRED (disaster agency) and more -- but no one showed up. They put an appeal on Facebook and we ALL started calling everyone and posting pictures of the fire to get attention. (Pictures below courtesy of Facebook.)

Meanwhile, they recruited men from the nearest town, plus the help of friends and friends' guardians (pronounced gwar-dee-ahns, they are groundskeepers and handymen) to fight the fire themselves. Hard work!
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala
Look at all those dry leaves! Not good.
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala
A resourceful expat had a firehose that he loaned to La Fortuna. They soaked the jungle around the property.
Can you imagine trying to fight a fire in this dense bush and steep terrain?
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala
Fire coming down the dry hills above La Fortuna Lodge.
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala La Fortuna
Photo taken yesterday by the lodge owner. Fire is still not out. 
Luckily, the high winds have died down the past day so hopefully the fire won't jump too much further. We haven't had rain in as long as I can remember. 'Tis the dry season, you know! The fire was on the local news channels and is also heading towards other towns, so it is getting much more attention. Many have said it's the biggest forest fire they've seen in the area in a long time. Crossed fingers that it will soon be out with no lives lost.
forest fire Lake Atitlan Guatemala
Photo I took this morning. The smoke is spreading all over the lake.
If you would like to "relax in style" at Lake Atitlan, I recommend a stay at La Fortuna. Such a gorgeous place! It made the very elite list of TripAdvisor's Top 25 Small Hotels in the World. Check it out.


  1. The fire didn't start at the dump.. the Solola dump which is due to be closed since a couple of year that is correct is not the source of the fire.. The fire started closer to El jaibal Moutain then from the dump.

    1. Interesting! The majority of people have said it started at the dump, but I've already heard the authorities in an interview saying there was "a criminal hand". We'll probably never know how it started. I'm Canadian, so oftentimes big forest fires just start from lightning strikes, but too often also from tossed cigarette butts and unlicenced burning. I just hope no one gets hurt! Forest fires are scary business.
      Thanks for your comment!