Hawaii lava eruption: 'I can see my house burning,' says resident

Almost three dozen structures, including homes, have been destroyed since the Kilauea volcano began erupting last week, according to officials on Monday, and at least 10 fissures have emerged to send lava into residential neighborhoods on the eastern edge of the island of Hawaii.

While eruptions of gas and lava continued, "active emission of lava and spatter" at several fissures was "minimal" overnight, according to an early morning update from the Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

The statement cautioned that it was "likely only a pause in activity." More outbreaks were expected as seismic activity continued in the area. The island has been hit by hundreds of earthquakes in recent days, including one Friday with a magnitude of 6.9. More aftershocks from that earthquake were expected, the update said.

The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency also warned about the threat of high levels of deadly sulfur dioxide gas.

Last week, Hawaii County ordered evacuations of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, where about 1,800 people live.

Heath Dalton, a resident of Leilani Estates who was evacuated Friday, returned to his home Sunday morning. He drove a truck and trailer, planning to pick up boxes of his family's possessions that he had packed earlier, but instead found his home engulfed in flames.

"I couldn't go up my road," he said. "It had huge, huge coverage of lava probably close to 10 feet tall."

He called two neighbors to tell them their houses were gone. "I look at mine and I can see my house burning," he said. "At that point I called my wife and said there's no reason for you to come, there's nothing to get."

According to an update from the civil defense agency, 35 structures have been destroyed.

Fountains of lava have reached heights of 330 feet, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. One video posted by the observatory showed orange and black lava belching smoke and flames as it crawled down a residential street. Other images taken by helicopter showed molten rock inching across the subdivision, setting alight the structures it touched.

While the property damage is increasing, no deaths or injuries have been reported.


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