Lava from Hawaii volcano destroys 117 Big Island homes

Posted June 06, 2018

On Saturday, National Guard troops, police and firefighters ushered evacuees from homes on the eastern tip of the island, hours before lava cut off road access to the area, officials said.

Authorities are planning to airlift people out if the lava spreads farther and endangers the dozen or so holdouts.

There is a possibility that some residents could have died in the disaster, officials said. Three people were airlifted out of an isolated area on Sunday in the Kapoho community.

Lava from a fissure near the volcano entered Kapoho Bay overnight, forcing billowing clouds of steam into the atmosphere as hot lava hit the cool water of the Pacific Ocean. A map of the lava flows from the east rift zone on June 4, 2018.

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"We understand and commiserate with our community and visitors about the prolonged closure, but we can not provide safe access to the Kīlauea section of the park as long as these very unpredictable dangers threaten the safety of park staff and visitors", said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

The monthlong eruption has claimed as much as a half of a forest reserve that's home to native birds and trees that have already been declining because of disease, state officials said.

Officials had issued mandatory evacuation orders for Kapoho as well as nearby Vacationland and Leilani Estates, urging those in the area to get out by Friday or risk being unreachable by rescue crews. "Period", county spokeswoman Janet Snyder told reporters.

County Managing Director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots was also threatened.

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A Kapoho man was arrested on Saturday, as lava approached the Four Corners intersection.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated from the area and lava spewing from the volcano's fissures have destroyed more than 100 structures since the first eruption a month ago. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust.

Hawaii Civil Defense warned residents to avoid contact with the "laze" steam, which can contain hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles.

The current activity has been accompanied for weeks by daily periodic explosions of gas and volcanic rock from Kilauea's summit crater as well as earthquakes.

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The quake comes on the heels of a separate 5.5 magnitude tremor at 3:50 p.m. on Sunday, June 3, that also rattled the summit area and cracked the overlook deck at Jaggar Museum.