An intense eruptive phase started at Guatemala’s Fuego volcano around 08:00 UTC on May 4, 2023, characterized by lava flows, constant incandescent activity, dense gas and ash emissions, and multiple high-speed pyroclastic flows of various intensities. Abundant ashfall was reported in villages and farms located up to 50 km (31 miles) W of the volcano.

A couple of hours after the start of the eruption, authorities established a 7 km (4.3 miles) exclusion zone around the volcano and started evacuating more than 1 000 people living in the municipalities of San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango, Panimaché I and II villages, El Porvenir and Morelia. Civil Protection official Oscar Cossio told reporters that the number of people that need to be evacuated is likely to rise.

The dense ash column produced by the eruption reached an altitude of 6.7 km (22 000 feet) above sea level by 21:20 UTC, according to the Washington VAAC. Ash cloud was extending approximately 200 km (120 miles) W from the summit.

The eruption was accompanied by rumblings and moderate and strong shock waves on a constant basis, as well as the descent of moderate and strong pyroclastic flows that traveled between 5 and 7 km (3.1 – 4.3 miles) along the Ceniza, Las Lajas, Seca and Santa Teresa ravines.

These pyroclastic flows caused constant and abundant ashfall in the communities located in the vicinity of the volcano.