Residents in Hawaii's Leilani Estates area fear homes could be gone
Molten lava continues to chew through forests and bubble up through the streets while earthquakes continue to rattle the big island of Hawaii. More than 1800 people have evacuated from the Leilani Estates and Puna area.
"I left yesterday at 5 o'clock when I saw one of the videos on Facebook," said Kim Larson, of Seward. "I thought the lava was coming out of the street above me. I had 15 minutes, I grabbed my animals, my documents and a suitcase full of clothes and I left."
Kim splits her time between the Leilani Estates area on Hawaii and Seward, Alaska.
"There are now five fissure vents that have opened in the area," Larson said. "Basically my house is about, oh, as a crow flies, about 400 yards from it."
The Kilauea Volcano has been continuing to erupt in some form or another since 1983. The last big eruption happened in 2014, that was different than this current eruption.
"This particular eruption has been unusual," Director of Public Affairs for the state of Hawaii Department of Defense Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said. "In the sense that the lava was moving 25 miles underground before it erupted to the surface in an area called Leilani Estates."
In this instance with the lava flowing under the surface, it boiled to the top, cracking the earth above and looking for any soft spot to release its pressure.
"Let me put it this way," Lt. Col Anthony said, "It's been some time since the mid-'50s that there was any type of eruption similar to this one. Right now there are about 60 soldiers from the Hawaii National Guard on state active duty supporting Hawaii County with evacuation and home security. There's a concern about looters coming into the homes after they’ve been evacuated, so the National Guard is assisting county police with additional resources to minimize that threat."
Besides the erupting volcano and bubbling lava, earthquakes are shaking the ground residents are walking on. Most notably, two quakes registering at 5.0 magnitude or higher on Friday.
"The first one happened around 11 this morning," Larson said. "The second happened around 2:30 this afternoon while I was trying to get back to my house. It felt like you were driving in a small boat to Caines Head out of Seward in the breeze in the afternoon. I was just bouncing in my Chevy truck and getting a couple feet in the air."
Kim was also turned away from the top of Leilani Estates due to high amounts of sulfur dioxide in the air, then blocked out of the bottom entrance as the lava flow grew too intense.
"When we got to the top of Highway 130, they said we had to go to the bottom of Leilani," Larson said. "You can't go through the top because of the sulfur dioxide gas. It's too bad, no one can go in that way, you have to go to the bottom of Leilani and when we got to the bottom of Leilani, they closed the road."
For now, Kim Larson and many of the people in the Leilani Estates and Puna area of the big Hawaiian Island can only hope and pray their property will be spared.
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