Molten lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano continued gushing into the lush paradise on the Big Island Monday, even as an eleventh fissure opened up, destroying more than two dozen homes and spewing lava hundreds of feet in the air.
The 26 decimated homes were located in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano, officials said. No fatalities or major injuries have been reported since the eruptions began Thursday.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno told reporters on Sunday that some of the fissures “have established pretty good flows and just continue to cover more of the subdivision,” adding a sizeable lava flow was heading north of a new vent.
“There’s no sign of slowing down,” he said. “We had some pauses yesterday, but it seems like there’s a lot of magma under the ground.”
Magno added that “it seems like the flows are extending further from the fissures, so the eruption is progressing.”
Some of the more than 1,700 residents who have been evacuated in the Leilani Estates subdivision were allowed to briefly return to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities. Home prices in the area range from about $250,000 up to nearly $600,000, according to real estate listings.
The neighborhood is known for having more affordable real-estate prices on the Big Island that draw in many newcomers who can’t afford to live elsewhere, according to Reuters. Leilani Estates is located in the “Zone 1” (out of nine) hazard rating for lava-flows, as calculated by the U.S. Geological Survey, due to “vents that have been repeatedly active in historical time.”
“People move here thinking it’s paradise, and what they learn is that it’s something different,” realtor Jessica Gauthier told the news agency.
Amber Makuakane Kane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, told the Associated Press that her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava.
The dwelling was across from a fissure that opened Friday, when “there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard, but everything looked fine,” Makuakane said.
Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.
“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.
About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.
The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983.