Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

One finger of the lava poured into a small freshwater lake, boiling away all its water late on Saturday, while another finger spilled into Kapoho Bay on Sunday night, officials said. Magno described the molten lava as being "like a flood, pouring out, covering everything in its path".

The homes lost are in addition to at least 117 destroyed and reported by county officials since lava began spilling from cracks in the ground that opened up in a mostly rural district of the Big Island last month.

Most area residents have already evacuated.

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

When asked at a news conference Monday about the number of evacuations, he said he didn't have a good estimate because up to 80% of the houses in some areas are vacation rentals.

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"For us it's more of a vacation area, but for those who live there permanently, they're trying to figure out where they're going to be living", he said.

All but a few of the estimated 500 inhabitants of Kapoho and adjacent Vacationland development are now believed to have fled their homes, an agency spokesman said. Kim and Okabe live in Hilo, the county's seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.

The ocean entry sends a large laze plume into the air along the coastline. That raises the threat from laze, a toxic mixture of hydrochloric acid formed by lava vaporizing seawater.

Officials warned the public to stay away from the plume because it can irritate skin and eyes and make it hard to breathe.

About 7.7 square miles are covered by lava, which is about 0.2 percent of Hawaii Island, according to the USGS.

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This image from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) shows shows the lava flow originating from Fissure 8 (not visible in photograph) entering Kapoho Bay on Monday.

Almost a dozen people were left stranded in an area cut off by lava on Sunday.

USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Monday that parts of the channelized flow from a fissure were starting to break out and move north. He faces charges that include refusing to evacuate and reckless driving.

At the same time, most of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, one of the island's biggest tourist attractions, remains closed indefinitely due to hazards from ash and volcanic rock ejected from the summit crater, and accompanying earthquakes that have damaged park facilities.

"Unlike lava, which you can see coming and avoid, we cannot see or predict earthquakes", Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said.

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