Volcano in Hawaii shoots lava into sky
Nearly 1,500 residents were ordered to evacuate from their volcano-side homes after Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano erupted, sending molten lava to chew its way through forest land and bubble up on paved streets.
Volcano officials couldn’t predict how long the eruption may last, prompting Hawaii’s governor to activate the National Guard to help with evacuations and provide security to about 770 structures left empty when residents sought shelter.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Hawaii County officials 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.
Asta Miklius, a geophysicist with the USGS Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that there is no way to know exactly how long the eruption will continue.
“One of the parameters is going to be whether the summit magma reservoir starts to drain in response to this event, and that has not happened yet,” Miklius said. “There is quite a bit of magma in the system. How long the eruption will last will depend on whether the summit magma reservoir gets involved. And so we are watching that very, very closely.”
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.