Lava Destroys at Dozens of Homes on Hawaii's Big Island

Later, steam rose from the widening fissures before orange columns of molten rock erupted geyser-like into the tropical air.

The volcano eruption in Hawaii has caused a large-scale evacuation in the Leilani estates residential area, home to about 1,500 people.

Eruptions of lava and toxic sulfur dioxide gas continued within the subdivision, and larger aftershocks from Friday's 6.9 magnitude quake were expected, the observatory said.

"That number could change", Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said of the number of homes destroyed.

Leilani Estates resident Elizabeth Kerekgyarto wipes her brow while waiting in her auto to enter Leilani Estates to see the status of her home in Pahoa, Hawaii Island.

Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet (36,000 square meters) surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow.

Professor Cronin says Aucklanders shouldn't be anxious about a chain reaction affecting volcanoes in New Zealand.

The semi-rural wooded area, with dirt roads and many homemade "off the grid" houses, is a landing pad for newcomers to Hawaii's Big Island who can not afford real-estate prices elsewhere. According to the USGS, eruptions and earthquakes could continue for months.

State officials told Reuters the disaster hasn't impacted flights or tourist spots on the island, which are far from the area where lava continues to burst from cracks in the ground.

"Fissure 7 stopped erupting in mid-afternoon", scientists wrote.

"I also understand that I live in lava zone one".

Trees in the path of the lava instantly caught fire.

Images showed lava spurting into the sky from a crack in a road and a line of lava snaking through a forest. On Friday, lava spatter was being launched over power lines.

If levels stay low as they are now, authorities say that there is a chance that some people will be allowed to return for essentials such as medicine and pets.

The eruption began around 4:45 p.m. local time in Leilani Estates, which is near the town of Pahoa, on Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

It was the collapse of a lava-filled crater in the East Rift Zone on Monday that set off this week's eruption.

Meanwhile, Hawai'i County officials have put together a new map that features the locations of volcanic fissures, road blocks, and subdivisions in the Puna area.

On Sunday, authorities said the situation is risky and that it's unlikely that volcanic activity along the east rift zone of Kilauea volcano will be ending anytime soon.

Big Island's Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, spewing molten rock and high levels of sulfur dioxide. Once there, she grabbed her important documents, four dogs and a chinchilla, and got out of the area to higher ground, 20 miles northwest of Leilani Estates.

"Aftershocks from Friday's magnitude-6.9 quake continue and more should be expected, with larger aftershocks potentially producing rockfalls and associated ash clouds above Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Halemaʻumaʻu crater", the spokesperson said.

  • Carolyn Briggs