Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes in new subdivisions

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava flows into Green Lake on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

HOLLYN JOHNSON Tribune-Herald Lava flows into Green Lake on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

"We don't have an estimate yet, but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland last night", Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County, said on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT).

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

Kīlauea Volcano's current eruption centered in Leilani Estates on the Big Island of Hawai'i has destroyed almost 200 homes over the past day and a half. Now, the area is completely covered by lava after a slow-moving flow pushed its way through the neighborhood, claiming hundreds of homes in what was considered to be the most destructive day of any eruption in modern times. These were vacation homes and rentals, as well as primary residences. Civil defense officials said Kapoho Bay had been filled in with lava that extended seven-tenths of a mile from what had been the shoreline. Lava has inundated most of Vacationland and has covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots.

Fissure no. 8 is the only one now active, but walls of a perched pond from the fissure are expected to break and send more lava oozing toward the ocean. Fissure 8 was very active overnight into Tuesday, producing large amounts of lava that destroyed homes.

Numerous homes in the upscale gated community of Kapoho Beach Lots were valued at several million dollars each.

Barbara McDaniel, a retiree who moved with her husband to Vacationland from Washington state five years ago, said they fled as soon as evacuations began, taking little else but their dog and cat with them.

However, there is no telling how long this eruption might continue for. Some said they were staying because they had nowhere else to go, officials said.

Officials warned residents about the presence of laze, a potentially risky mix of hydrochloric acid, steam and tiny glass particles in the air. Miles of charred, blackened landscape are visible behind the ocean-entry point, showing the lava flow's path of destruction from the inland fissure.

So too have airborne volcanic glass fibers, called "Pele's hair", wispy strands carried aloft by the wind from lava fountains and named for the volcano goddess of Hawaiian myth.

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