Over 1,000 Evacuations Ordered As Hawaii’s Kilauea Erupts Into Residential Area

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Hawaii’s Kilauea began erupting on Thursday, and the flow of molten lava into the nearby Leilani Estates has forced nearly 1,500 people to flee their homes.

A series of hundreds of small earthquakes that rocked Hawaii’s Big Island for several days prior served as a warning to locals and officials that an eruption might be coming.

Sure enough, the lava began flowing late Thursday — but as it flowed over roads and toward residential areas, Governor David Ige told local news station KHON-TV that he had activated the National Guard to assist as residents began to evacuate the area.

“We definitely have sufficient numbers in the National Guard. We have some members who actually live on the Big Island and we did activate them. They’re in the emergency operation center as we speak.”

Jeremiah Osuna, who captured drone footage of the lava as it crept closer and closer to people’s homes, described the terrifying scene to KHON-TV. “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. I couldn’t believe it. I was kind of shaken a little bit and realizing how real everything is, and how dangerous living on the East Rift can be.”

Authorities don’t know yet how long residents will be away from their homes — or whether more may need to be evacuated. Talmadge Magno of Big Island’s Civil Defense explained, “The best thing they can do right now is stay out of the area. It’s not a stable situation at all. This is not over, it could escalate at any time.”