Neighborhoods on Hawaii’s Big Island looked less like paradise and more like a nightmare after the Kilauea volcano erupted last Thursday.
Ten fissures — cracks in the earth — have emerged and continue to spew lava and hazardous fumes in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, according to an update from the Civil Defense Agency on Sunday. Photos show the volcanic matter shooting dozens of feet into the air and magma destroying anything in its path as it flows.
“Lava is so hot that it can ignite things before it touches them,” United States Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall told CNN.
The Civil Defense Agency said 26 homes had been destroyed as of Sunday evening, as Hawaii County civil defense administrator Talmadge Magno warned there was “no sign of things slowing down.”
“That’s the sad part about it,” Magno told CBS News. “It could be happening for a long time, or on the other hand, like I said, mysteriously it could just end.”
Although over 1,700 Hawaii residents have been ordered to evacuate, CNN reported, some are hesitant to leave their homes. But in addition to the lava and toxic fumes, the area is also susceptible to increased earthquake activity.
David Burlingame, who lives just two miles from Leilani Estates, told the Washington Post that he “watched my house just shake back and forth” during one of the earthquakes that came in the aftermath of the eruption.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park closed for two days after the eruption due to earthquake activity, re-opening in limited capacity on Sunday.
Residents of affected areas were permitted to return to their homes during daytime hours to check for damage and collect important belongings, according to the Post.
Some believe the disaster is just Hawaiian volcanic goddess Pele reclaiming her land, in tradition with local folklore.
“The way I kind of look at it is, the land doesn’t really belong to us. It belongs to Pele,” Jordan Sonner, a realtor, told the Washington Post. “We get to live on it while we can, and if she wants it back, she’ll take it. I have good insurance.”
The burst came after hundreds of earthquakes rattled the area for days, with a magnitude 5.0 quake recorded shortly before Thursday’s explosion, according to the Associated Press. The quakes were triggered after the Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse last Monday.
Kilauea’s Puu Oo cone initially erupted in 1983, and lava has continued to flow since, destroying homes in the ’80s, in 1990, and even in 2014, according to the New York Times.
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