Hawaii volcano lava destroys hundreds of homes overnight

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava flows into Green Lake on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

HOLLYN JOHNSON Tribune-Herald Lava flows into Green Lake on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

A slow-moving flood of lava destroyed hundreds of homes in the southeast area of Big Island, turning what had been a scenic bay dotted with beach homes, lush greens and turquoise waters, into a dark slab of steam and lava.

A morning overflight confirmed that lava completely filled Kapoho Bay, inundated most of Vacationland and covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

No injuries were reported as most residents heeded advice to leave.

When asked at a news conference Monday about the number of evacuations, he said he didn't have a good estimate because up to 80% of the houses in some areas are vacation rentals.

And it not only took homes, it completely filled Kapoho Bay, extending 0.8 miles from the coastline.

One finger of the lava poured into a small freshwater lake, boiling away all its water late on Saturday, while another finger spilled into Kapoho Bay on Sunday night, officials said.

The incredible aerial picture was snapped on the outskirts of Pahoa as lava flowed through the ongoing eruption of Kilauea.

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All but a few of the estimated 500 inhabitants of Kapoho and adjacent Vacationland development are now believed to have fled their homes, an agency spokesman said. As of early Tuesday, lava burned down at least 159 homes, CBS News correspondent Carter Evans reports.

Lava flows have knocked out telephone and power lines, causing widespread communication outages, and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant that normally provides about a quarter of the island's electricity.

Pomerleau said all of the vacation homes he did handyman work for are gone.

"God only knows what it's going to do next", Johnson said.

He told reporters on Monday that temblors are almost continuous at the summit and that gas emissions remain "very high".

Hawaii County Civil Defense authorities also warned about laze, a nasty mashup of lava and haze that sends hydrochloric acid and volcanic glass particles into the air. "It's a attractive spot", she said Monday. The lava flow extended 0.8 miles from the shore. Police said a 55-year-old man was arrested last week after he circumvented a traffic checkpoint and crashed his vehicle into a hardened lava flow.

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