Hawaii Lava Flow Update: First Home Burned Down, Residents Evacuating

Volcano eruptions can spew ash tens of thousands of feet in the air and can also result in massive lava flows. |

The Hawaii lava flow, which has been moving slowly on the biggest island in the archipelago since June 27, destroyed its first home Sunday. The hot, slow-moving magma erupting from the Kilauea volcano is now threatening the main road of the small rural town of Pahoa, forcing residents to be displaced.

The Hawaii lava flow hit the home at about noon and burned it down. It has also burned everything in its path, including a cemetery, a garden shed and roads.

"At approximately 11:55 this morning, the residential structure … was ignited by the advancing flow," the Hawaii County Civil Defense force stated. The homeowners had already moved to the mainland after the lava began moving their way, said defense administrator Darryl Oliveira.

"We did have family members onsite to document as well as to observe the loss of this long-standing property that many generations have shared in," he told West Hawaii Today.

Fortunately, the lava is relatively slow moving, burning things at about a rate of three to five yards an hour, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Still, many residents have evacuated.

"It's slow," said local resident Imelda Raras, who moved her things to storage just in case. "Maybe there will come a time when it will be faster again."

Local officials are putting into place a plan for when the lava speeds up. Even though the lava has stopped about 480 feet from the town's main road, there's a chance it could continue to nearby schools, so many of them were closed in October to transfer 1,700 students and 300 employees out of the way 400 have already been placed into portable classrooms in the parking lot.

"Parents expressed relief and were pleased with the arrangements of the classrooms," said Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Department of Education. "Many high school students were helpful with the younger students."

Crews have also been looking for alternative routes to Highway 130, which is important to the Puna district.

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