PUNA, Hawaii — More than 80 homes have been destroyed by the Kilauea volcano eruption in Hawaii in the four weeks since lava began flowing, Hawaii Civil Defense spokesman Talmadge Mango said Friday.
The number of homes swallowed by the lava flowing from fissures has jumped to at least 87, up the from the 77 reported destroyed Thursday.
The report of mounting damage followed a mandatory evacuation order issued Thursday night for a portion of the Leilani Estates subdivision in the midst of “vigorous lava eruptions” threatening homes, the Civil Defense said.
Leave — or get arrested
Because of the havoc and damage the volcano is causing, authorities gave residents two options: evacuate or get arrested.
Residents were advised to evacuate by Friday afternoon. Emergency responders have no plans to rescue anyone from the evacuated areas past the deadline, the agency said.
“They are being asked to leave. Period,” county spokeswoman Janet Snyder told reporters.
Those in Kapoho — including Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland — also were ordered out due to the risk of getting trapped by the lava.
Four weeks have passed since the first eruption rocked Hawaii’s Big Island and lava continues oozing from volcanic fissures, burning homes to the ground and turning into rivers of molten rock.
The US Geological Survey said the lava from the Kilauea volcano has covered an area of 5.5 square miles — that’s four times as big as New York’s Central Park.
Fissure 8 remains the most active, the USGS says, sending “persistent fountains” of lava as high as 260 feet into the air. Lava lobes from Fissure 8 were advancing 100 yards an hour, the USGS said.
“This is the hottest lava we’ve seen during this eruption,” Wendy Stovall, a scientist with USGS told CNN affiliate Hawaii News Now. “Lava can’t get hotter than where we are.”
Volcanic weather conditions
Besides the lava, there’s also the danger of “vog,” or volcanic smog. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust.
In addition to volcanic particles that can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation, residents were warned to be on the lookout for sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers known as “Pele’s hair,” a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of fire. The Civil Defense Agency warned it could cause injury if it got in residents’ eyes or was breathed in.
CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said the volcano is also creating its own weather. The USGS, posted a photo to Facebook from earlier this week that shows building pyrocumulus clouds over fissure 8.
“Hawaii Volcano Observatory Scientists are beginning to observe these ‘pyrocumulus’ clouds forming over the Leilani Estates fissure system,” the USGS stated.
Pyrocumulus clouds are rare mushroom-like cloud formations that can tower above lava and gases spattering from a volcano. They are often also referred to as “flammagenitus” or “fire clouds,” the USGS said in the post.