21 Homes Destroyed By Hawaii Lava Flows

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Sunday, May 6, 2018, image from a research camera mounted in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, shows the summit of the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. (AP)

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — Officials say 21 homes have now been destroyed in Hawaii by lava flowing from Kilauea volcano, based on an aerial survey by the fire department.

Residents of Leilani Estates are still being allowed to briefly return to gather medicines, pets and other essentials.

No children are allowed in the area.

Officials said molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.

A single mother of two says she is devastated that her Big Island home was burned to the ground by a lava flow.

Amber Makuakane confirmed to the AP on Sunday (May 6) that her property in Leilani Estates is one of at least nine that officials say was destroyed by Kilauea volcano.

The 37-year-old elementary school teacher says her three-bedroom house was right across from a fissure that had opened Friday. She says there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard initially but everything looked fine.

But she received alerts Saturday that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered. She later confirmed that lava had covered her entire property.

Makuakane grew up in the area, and despite the risks, wanted to remain close to her family.

Officials on Hawaii’s Big Island say what started out as a small spattering of lava from the ground only took minutes to become cascading fountains.

U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall says lava fountains spewed as high as 230 feet (70 meters) into the air Saturday night only 15 minutes after the initial eruption from a new fissure.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder says only one fissure has active lava flowing, though at last count a total of nine vents had opened up as of 9:30 p.m.

Snyder says it’s all part of a little chain of events and that these “breakouts” are following a path.

She says the plan remains to allow some evacuated residents to return to Leilani Estates to retrieve important items, though that is subject to change.

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