Hawaii volcano shoots lava into sky; evacuations ordered

A volcano on the Big Island erupted Thursday sending lava shooting into the sky

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano erupted Thursday, sending lava shooting into the air in a residential neighbourhood and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for nearby homes.

Hawaii County said steam and lava poured out of a crack in Leilani Estates, which is near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island.

Footage shown on local television showed lava spurting into the sky from a crack in a road. Aerial drone footage showed a line of lava snaking through a forest.

Resident Jeremiah Osuna captured drone footage of the lava burning through the trees, a scene he described as a “curtain of fire.”

“It sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could. You could just smell sulfur and burning trees and underbrush and stuff,” he told Honolulu television station KHON.

RELATED: Officials mistakenly send out missile warning in Hawaii

Lava fountains were shooting 150 feet (46 metres) in the air, and molten lava spread out over an area about 200 yards (183 metres) wide behind one house in Leilani Estates, Big Island resident Ikaika Marzo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser .

“It sounds like a jet engine. It’s going hard,” he said.

Officials said there is no way to predict how long the eruption will continue.

Asta Miklius, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, told The Associated Press that there is quite a bit of magma in the volcano’s system.

“It won’t be just an hours-long eruption probably, but how long it will last will depend on whether the summit magma reservoir gets involved,” she said.

County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate, as an eruption would give little warning. Officials at the U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday raised the volcano’s alert level to warning status, the highest possible, meaning a hazardous eruption is imminent, underway or suspected.

The county has ordered evacuations for all of Leilani Estates, which according to the 2010 U.S. Census has a population of 1,500. Hawaii Gov. David Ige also mobilized the Hawaii National Guard to assist with evacuations and security.

Ige also signed an emergency proclamation providing state money for response efforts. There are about 770 structures in the subdivision where lava is flowing.

Nearby community centres have opened for shelter.

RELATED: Emergency alerts coming to B.C. cell phones

Ranson Yoneda, the recreation director for a Pahoa community centre, was readying the gymnasium for evacuees after it was selected as a Red Cross evacuation centre.

He said so far, about 15 people have arrived, some with animals, and they are hungry for information.

“They just want to know what’s going on because they were told it’s a mandatory evacuation,” he said by telephone.

The U.S. Geological Survey said new ground cracks were reported Thursday afternoon. Hot vapour emerged from a crack and spattering lava began to erupt.

Scientists said areas downslope of the erupting vent were at risk of being covered by lava. Leilani Estates appeared to be at greatest risk, but scientists said new vents and outbreaks could occur and it’s not possible to say where.

The eruption comes after days of earthquakes rattled the area’s Puna district. A nearby school was closed due to the ongoing seismic activity and several roadways cracked under the strain of the constant temblors.

The Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering a series of earthquakes and pushing the lava into new underground chambers.

The collapse caused magma to push more than 10 miles (16 kilometres) downslope toward the populated southeast coastline of the island.

USGS geologist Janet Babb said the magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point, on Tuesday night.

Hawaii County Civil Defence Agency closed the area to visitors on Tuesday and ordered private tour companies to stop taking people into the region.

Most of Kilauea’s activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 10-ton (9-metric ton) rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.

Puu Oo’s 1983 eruption resulted in lava fountains soaring over 1,500 feet (457 metres) high. In the decades since, the lava flow has buried dozens of square miles of land and destroyed many homes.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Surrey business groups dig in heels on LRT

Mayor-elect Doug McCallum and his coalition aim to cancel LRT in favour of extending SkyTrain

New faces on Surrey council: Who they are and how they got here

The council includes seven of eight candidates who ran with Doug McCallum-led Safe Surrey Coalition

UPDATE: Missing Surrey girl, 15, located

Surrey RCMP sought help to locate Hailey McClelland

Four-vehicle collision shuts down section of Highway 10 in Cloverdale

One driver transported to hospital with what looked to be non-life threatening injuries

Homicide team called in after man assaulted in Surrey dies in hospital

Police say they were called about assault early Sunday morning but both caller and victim took off

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

Vancouver mayoral hopefuly admits defeat, congratulates winner Kennedy Stewart

Ken Sim of the Non-Partisan Association apologized for the time it took to acknowledge Stewart won

Mental fitness questioned of man charged in Chilliwack River Valley shooting

Peter Kampos told his lawyer ‘his dreams are being stolen and turned into drugs’ at Surrey Pre-trial

Fraser Valley mom stuck in Africa over adoption delay

Kim and Clark Moran have been waiting four weeks to bring son home

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read