Kapoho Beach Lots, Vacationland destroyed by lava

Lava erupts in May from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood

Three people were evacuated from an isolated part of the Kapoho community Sunday, according to the Hawaii Fire Department.

There is a possibility that some residents could have died in the disaster, officials said. The lava channel was estimated to be about 100 feet wide.

A Kapoho man was arrested on Saturday, as lava approached the Four Corners intersection. "They are not only putting themselves into potentially life-threatening situations, but we can't completely lock gates or erect impassable barricades in areas where people have only one way out - these are the routes loiterers are using to gain up-close access".

Another 2,000 people have been evacuated from the Leilani Estates subdivision, an area further west, where dozens of homes have been devoured or cut off by rivers of red-hot molten rock streaming over the landscape since May 3.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that vigorous lava eruptions continue in the Lower East Rift Zone. They stopped to inquire of their situation, and then when asked, airlifted them to a safe place.

One of more than a dozen fissures in the earth's crust caused by the quake, Fissure 8, continues to feed a half-mile-wide lava flow toward the ocean at a rate of 250 feet per hour, the USGS said Sunday. Overnight, it continued its rampage and destroyed hundreds of homes, a Hawaii County spokeswoman said.

Those in Kapoho - including Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland - also were ordered out because of the risk of getting trapped by the lava.

The erupting Kilauea volcano has been spouting lava, ash and rocks for almost a month.

Although volcanic activity has only affected a small amount of forest area, authorities are concerned the wildlife unique to the region may be in danger.

In addition, at over four weeks, this eruption has lasted longer than the 1955 and 1924 eruptions, the USGS said.

The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says the explosion was associated with a Magnitude 5.5 quake.

This combines a toxic steam, known as laze - combining the words lava and haze - and contains tiny particles of volcanic gas.

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.

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