Published: Thu, June 07, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Hawaii lava flow fills Kapoho Bay

Hawaii lava flow fills Kapoho Bay

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.

Several miles (km) west of Kapoho Bay, another 80 structures, mostly homes, were destroyed weeks ago in the Leilani Estates community, where lava-spouting fissures in the ground first opened on May 3 on the volcano's lower flank, according to civil defense officials. The lava pushed into beach lots in Kapoho, which has about 350 homes and Vacationland, which has about 150.

A neighborhood called Vacationland on Hawaii's Big Island had disappeared by Wednesday as lava poured into two oceanfront subdivisions, smothering hundreds of homes and filling an ocean bay, turning it into new land that now juts into the sea.

Officials are still working to get an accurate count of damaged structures, but a flight by the U.S. Geological Survey shows blackened lava inundating a section of coastline that was once covered with lush forest and dotted by homes.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano flows across a highway.

Hawaii Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno told reporters that people needed to stay at least 1,000 feet back from the bay to avoid health effects from the laze, in accordance with Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Plumes of white steam and hydrochloric acid fumes, a vaporous, corrosive mix formed from lava reacting with seawater as it enters the ocean, could be seen rising from a distance.

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"I'm kind of at peace, actually", Johnson said of potentially losing his home of 28 years.

"Harry had a premonition this was going to happen", Snyder said.

Numerous homes in the upscale gated community of Kapoho Beach Lots were valued at several million dollars each. She said it would be some time before precise losses were confirmed.

Carolyn Boudreault, a Kapoho resident who is now staying in Boston with her family, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that the bay was a treasured place.

About 7.7 square miles are covered by lava, which is about 0.2% of Hawaii Island, according to the USGS. One home was lost in a separate 2014 lava flow in the commercial hub of Pahoa.

Homes in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland are on smaller lots and are closer together than in other parts of the Puna district.

Residents in the nearby areas should also be prepared to evacuate with little notice, officials said.

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