Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Eruption Destroys More Than 30 Homes
PAHOA, Hawaii - The number of homes destroyed by lava shooting out of openings in the ground created by Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has climbed to at least 30, authorities told CBS affiliate KGMB-TV.
Lava has been spewing more than 200 feet in the air, scientists say. Some of the more than 1,700 people who evacuated prepared for the possibility they may not return for quite some time.
"I have no idea how soon we can get back," said Todd Corrigan, who left his home in Leilani Estates with his wife Friday as lava burst through the ground three or four blocks from their home. They spent the night on the beach in their car and began looking for a vacation rental.
Hawaii County civil defense officials said two new fissures opened overnight, bringing the total to nine that opened in the neighborhood since Thursday. U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said that with the two new fissures, the total was 10, though one of the new ones had already stopped producing lava.
Scientists said Kilauea was likely to release more lava through additional vents, but they were unable to predict exactly where. Leilani Estates, a subdivision in the mostly rural district of Puna, is at greatest risk.
Authorities ordered more than 1,700 residents to evacuate from there and nearby Lanipuna Gardens.
Hawaii County civil defense administrator Talmadge Magno said at a Sunday news conference that some residents did indeed go back to the area. He also stressed to wear a mask if in the area to reduce breathing in any contaminants. However, officials have warned about wearing the right masks with a warning posted online.
"Unfortunately we are up to 26 residences taken out," Magno said earlier Sunday. "There's no sign of things slowing down."
Magno told CBS News correspondent Carter Evans that it's not known for how long the volcanic activity will continue.
"That's the sad part about it," Magno told Evans. "It could be happening for a long time, or on the other hand, like I said, mysteriously it could just end."
Amber Makuakane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava.
The dwelling was across from a fissure that opened Friday, when "there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard, but everything looked fine," Makuakane said.
On Saturday, she received alerts from her security system that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered. She later confirmed that lava had covered her property.
"They don't really understand," she said about her children. "My son keeps asking me, 'Mommy when are we going to go home?'"
Hundreds of small earthquakes continued to rumble through the area Saturday, one day after a magnitude-6.9 temblor hit -- the largest earthquake to hit Hawaii in more than 40 years.
Magma moving through Kilauea set off the earthquakes, said geologists, who warned of aftershocks.
Authorities cautioned sulfuric gas pouring out of the vents also posed dangers, particularly to the elderly and people with respiratory problems. Hawaii County spokeswoman Kanani Aton said some residents may be allowed to return home briefly to pick up medicine or take care of pets if sulfur dioxide levels drop.
Nearly 30 years ago, lava slowly covered an entire town, Kalapana, over the period of about a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.