'Fire volcano' closes airport, forces evacuations

Members of the Guatemalan Army clean ashes off the runway of the closed La Aurora airport in Guatemala on 8 February.

Story highlights

  • At least 100 people who live near the volcano have been evacuated
  • Fuego Volcan is one of Central America's most active volcanoes

(CNN)An eruption of Guatemala's so-called "fire volcano" has closed an airport and forced the evacuation of at least 100 people.

Guatemala's national disaster agency says the volcano, known locally as Fuego Volcan, erupted Saturday and spewed ashes "to an altitude reaching 5,500 meters (18,000 feet) above sea level."
The smoke and ash forced Guatemala's La Aurora International Airport to stop all air traffic around the area.
    Guatemala's alert level has been raised to "orange," which puts in place the possibility of rescue operations, the disaster agency said.
    The volcano is near the Pacific Ocean coast about 60 miles from the capital, Guatemala City.
    Fuego Volcan is one of Central America's most active volcanoes and has an elevation of 12,343 feet.
    It is a popular tourist attraction in Guatemala. Some companies offer "long technical trail tours ... not for the faint of heart" to the volcano, but say "most visitors will be content to admire Fuego's beauty from the safety of Antigua's cobblestone streets."