• Monday, October 22, 2018
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Nine Leilani Estates homes destroyed; lava fountains reach as high as 230 feet

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (VIA AP)

    A lava from fissure 7 slowly advances this morning to the northeast on Hookapu Street in Leilani Estates subdivision on Kolauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone in Leilani Estates on the Big Island.

  • MARCO GARCIA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A finger of molting lava from the Kilauea volcano moves across a road in the Leilani Estates in lower Puna Saturday.

  • MARCO GARCIA / ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Resident Sam Knox, 65, rides his bicycle near the edge of the road as lava burns in the Leilani Estates in lower Puna Saturday.

  • MICK KALBER / SPECIAL TO STAR-ADVERTISER

    A screen capture from video shot by Mick Kalber shows lava leaping into the air from a fissure in the neighborhood of Leilani Estates on Hawaii island.

  • COURTESY SHANE TURPIN/LAVA.COM

    This photo hows a cracked road after the eruption from Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii island.The Kilauea volcano sent more lava into Hawaii communities Friday, a day after forcing nearly 1,500 people to flee from their homes, and authorities detected high levels of sulfur gas that could threaten the elderly and people with breathing problems.

  • COURTESY USGS

    This map provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the locations of fissures on the East Rift Zone of Kilauea as of 10 a.m. Saturday.

  • COURTESY SHANE TURPIN/LAVA.COM

    This photo shows results of the eruption from Kilauea on Hawaii island. The eruption sent molten lava through forests and bubbling up from paved streets and forced the evacuation of about 1,500 people who were still out of their homes Friday after Thursday’s eruption.

  • COURTESY OF SHANE TURPIN/LAVA.COM

    This photo shows results of the eruption from Kilauea on Hawaii island. The eruption sent molten lava through forests and bubbling up from paved streets and forced the evacuation of about 1,500 people who were still out of their homes Friday after Thursday’s eruption.

  • This photo provided by Hawaii Electric Light shows lava flowing over Mohala Street in the Leilani Estates area near Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii Friday, May 4, 2018. Nearly 1,500 people have fled from their homes after Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano sent molten lava chewing through forests and bubbling up on paved streets in an eruption that one resident described as "a curtain of fire." (Hawaii Electric Light via AP)

  • COURTESY USGS

    A plume of ash rises from the Puu Oo vent on Hawaii’s Kilaueaa Volcano after a magnitude 5.0 earthquake.

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UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.

The American Red Cross reports this morning about 225 people, with about 90 pets, stayed overnight at the Pahoa Community Center shelter and 15 people at the Keaau Community Center shelter.

The shelters opened soon after the Thursday evening lava outbreaks at Leilani Estates that has now destroyed at least nine homes and placed about 1,800 residents under evacuation orders. The Pahoa community pool is closed so that its bathrooms and showers can be used by evacuees.

The U.S. Postal Service said evacuated residents can pick up their mail at the Pahoa Post Office, and that the downtown Hilo Post Office is closed until further notice due to possible structural damage to the Hilo Federal Building at 154 Waianuenue Ave. after Friday’s magnitude-6.9 quake. Downtown’s Post Office box customers can pick up their mail from the will call window at the Hilo Main Post Office at 1299 Kekuanaoa St. from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Customers using this service must present photo identification to pick up their mail.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirms that the volcanic eruption continues in Leilani subdivision in lower Puna. Scientists say at least 10 active volcanic vents are on Makamae, Kaupili, Mohala, Kahukai Streets and Pohoiki Road, and two new vents have opened near Makamae and Leilani, and on Kahukai Street, but there is no activity at Puna Geothermal Venture at this time.

All residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivision remain under an evacuation notice, however some residents of Leilani Estates have been allowed back in this morning temporarily to take care or retrieve animals and to get imprtant documents and other essentials.

Also, the county Department of Water Supply issued an emergency water restriction for Leilani Estates, Kapoho Beach Lots, Lanipuna Gardens, Pohoiki Bay Estates, Green Lake Farm Lots, Vacationland and all customers on Pohoiki and Kalapana Kapoho Beach Roads. Customers must restrict water use to health and safety needs only, the department said. Water spigots have been installed near the entrance of Lava Tree State Park and a water tanker has been placed in Vacationland for public use, officials said.

The Hawaii County Fire Department continues to warn residents of “extremely dangerous air quality conditions due to high levels of sulfur dioxide gas in the evacuation area. Elderly, young, and people with compromised respiratory systems are especially vulnerable.”

Officials say the high levels detected are an immediate threat to life for anyone exposed, and that “first responders may not be able to come to the aid of residents who refuse to evacuate.”

SUNDAY 8:40 a.m.

At least nine houses have now been confirmed destroyed in Leilani Estates as nine confirmed fissures continue to spew lava through the lower Puna subdivision.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists confirmed two more fissures emerged between Leilani and Malama streets near Luana and Kupono streets last night, bringing the total number of fissures to nine. Active venting of lava and hazardous fumes continues between Mohala and Pomaikai streets. The number of confirmed destroyed homes grew to nine overnight, from five Saturday evening.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said Leilani Estates residents with property between Highway 130 and Maile Street will be allowed to enter the subdivision today to complete evacuation of pets, medicine, and vital documents left behind between the hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m, conditions permitting. Residents should retrieve their items expeditiously so others may go in after them, they said.

No access is allowed at this time for residents of Lanipuna Gardens due to dangerous volcanic gases.

Residents will be required to provide identification and proof of residency in the Leilani subdivision.

Leilani residents entering must be on the alert for elevated levels of Sulfur Dioxide, wildfire, and volcanic eruption, they said.

SUNDAY 6 a.m

The lava outbreaks in Leilani Estates remained active overnight with a new fissure emerging and lava fountains as high as 230 feet, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

HVO scientists said early today that the latest opening appeared near fissures No. 2 and 7, the latter of which had stopped erupting by mid-afternoon Saturday.

“Early this morning, new ground cracks were reported on Highway 130, but no hear or escaping steam was subsequently observed,” HVO said.

They added that seismic activity and ground deformation indicates that the accumulation of magma along the Kilauea’s East Rift Zone continues.

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens in lower Puna on the Big Island.

Hundreds of aftershocks from Friday afternoon’s magnitude-6.9 quake have been felt over the weekend, including several above magnitude 4.0.

SATURDAY

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists confirmed this evening that no new lava outbreaks have emerged beyond the eight fissures that have already been identified in Leilani Estates in lower Puna.

But Hawaii County Civil Defense officials caution that the fissures have already destroyed five homes and continue to emit hazardous fumes in the subdivision.

They said that Hawaii Fire Department reports “extremely dangerous air quality conditions due to high levels of sulfur dioxide gas in the evacuation area” and that the high levels of sulfur dioxide are a threat to anyone exposed.

The subdivisions of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens remain under evacuation orders.

“The area continues to be unstable with volcanic venting and related hazards of earthquake and poisonous gases ongoing. Please heed all advisories,” county officials said tonight.

5:35 p.m.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will remain closed tonight, but officials said that if volcanic and seismic activity remain at current levels within the park, it could partially reopen Sunday afternoon.

“Park staff have been busy assessing trails, roads and buildings in the front country areas of the park today, and thus far, minimal damage has been reported,” they said this evening.

The park abruptly closed and was evacuated Friday afternoon after a magnitude-6.9 quake, centered in Leilani Estates, shook the area. It was the largest earthquake in Hawaii since 1975.

Hawaii Electric Light Co. officials, meanwhile, warned Leilani Estates residents to be careful because of damaged electrical equipment in the lava-inundation areas.

“Utility equipment has been damaged by lava in the Leilani Estates subdivision,” said company spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku. “Company employees are unable to enter restricted areas to restore power or confirm problems with electrical service. Everyone should treat lines, transformers, and other utility equipment as energized even if the equipment is on the ground.”

The company urged the public to stay away from downed or low hanging power lines.

3:35 p.m.

Hawaii County officials say the eight lava fissures in Leilani Estates in lower Puna “went quiet” for now after destroying at least five homes since Thursday evening.

Talmadge Magno, administrator of Hawaii County Civil Defense, said this afternoon that the eight separate fissures now appear connected by the lava that flowed out of them. He said the seismic activity and the lava flows have “died down (but) we are pretty sure we are not done.”

Magno said that county officials are looking at the possibility of letting some subdivision residents to temporarily return, perhaps as soon as Sunday, to “take care of their animals and get important documents.” However, he stressed, county officials would still would not going to let them stay. “We want them to come out,” he said.

He said that perhaps half of the evacuees may be allowed to make the temporary return, but officials are still planning how to do it safely. They want to set up a process to vet the residents to make sure people who do not belong in the subdivision are allowed in, he said.

Wil Okabe, Hawaii County managing director, said one of the biggest concerns is the level of dangerous sulfur dioxide gases from the lava. He said the biggest priority is the safety of the residents and county officials will have to consider sulfur dioxide levels and wind direction before letting residents to temporarily return.

Okabe also said there has been outpouring of support and offers to help. He said he received a call from the agent of Major League Baseball player and Hilo native Kolten Wong who, along with his St. Louis Cardinals teammates, want to help the Big Island community.

1:05 p.m.

Lava vents from Kilauea volcano have destroyed five homes in Leilani Estates, Hawaii County officials said this afternoon.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory officials said early this afternoon that the ongoing “eruptive activity is increasing and expected to continue.”

County officials said eight active lava vents have been confirmed on Makamae, Kaupili, Mohala, Kahukai streets and Pohoiki Road, with two new vents near Makamae and Leilani streets, and on Kahukai Street. There was no lava activity at the now-shut Puna Geothermal Venture as of midday, they said.

Hawaiian Electric Light Co., meanwhile, said power has been interrupted to Leilani Estates due to lava affecting power lines. Company crews are standing by and monitoring the situation, officials said.

11 a.m.

Staff at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirm the current Kilauea eruption continues in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna, with multiple vents located on Makamae St., Kaupili St., Mohala St., Kahukai St. and Pohoiki Rd.

In addition, two new fissures have opened in the area. The first appeared overnight at Leilani Avenue and Kahukai St. At 10 a.m. Saturday, HVO officials reported a second vent had been spotted earlier this morning in the area of Makamae and Kahukai streets.

According to a HVO spokesperson, there are now eight locations in Leilani Estates where lava is being monitored by staff.

Hawaii County officials report no activity at nearby Puna Geothermal Venture.

10:05 a.m.

The pool at the Pahoa Community Aquatic Center, 15-2910 Puna Rd., is closed for public swimming until further notice.

Shower and restroom facilities will remain open for residents to use for personal hygeine.

Call (808) 965-2700 for updates.

9 a.m.

American Red Cross shelters at the Pahoa Community Center, 15-3022 Kauhale St., and the Keeau Community Center, 16-186 Pili Mua St., remain open today for Puna residents displaced by the current Kilauea volcano eruption.

As of midnight, 157 people were at the Pahoa Community Center, with another 27 people at the Keeau shelter. Another 40 to 50 residents remained in their cars overnight at the Keeau Community Center parking lot.

Visit the Red Cross website for more information on what to put in an emergency kit.

SATURDAY 7:20 a.m.

An evacuation notice remains in effect for all residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, with various government agencies and the National Guard assisting those still in the area. The Pahoa Community Center and the Keaau Community Center are currently open to shelter evacuees.

Hawaii County Dept. of Water Supply officials say an emergency water restriction remains in place for Leilani Estates, Nanawale Estates, Kapoho and Lanipuna Gardens. Water should be used for health and safety needs only.

>> Related Video: Kilauea fissure erupts on Saturday night (mobile app users, click here)

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

PAHOA, Hawaii >> In the span of less than 24 hours, Hawaii island shook from the state’s strongest earthquake since 1975, evacuated roughly 1,800 people from lower Puna, and witnessed six new Kilauea volcano lava fissures burn into the small rural community of Leilani Estates.

The volcano, which had been threatening a new lava outbreak for days, opened up the first fissure shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday in the eastern end of the subdivision. The first outbreak was short-lived, lasting only a few hours and causing no known structure damage.

But by Friday afternoon there were at least six active fissures in the community, destroying a home and two other buildings, sending dangerous gas into the air, and forcing the evacuation of the entire subdivision.

Further, the ground shook steadily throughout the last two days, with hundreds of tremors of magnitude 2.5 or higher, with the strongest quake measuring magnitude 6.9 at 12:32 p.m. and centered in Leilani Estates, followed by countless aftershocks. The largest quake knocked out power to thousands, caused slight sea-level fluctuations and scared residents throughout the islands. It did not generate a tsunami.

“Things started shaking side to side. That was huge, the longest I ever felt,” said Hilo resident Bobbie Stivers-Apiki.

Hilo Hawaiian Hotel bellman Alan Shinkai said he was in the elevator during the quake. “I wanted to reach the ground as fast as possible,” he said.

The seismic and volcanic hyperactivity led to numerous closures and disruptions across the Big Island.

>> All residents in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens Subdivisions are required to evacuate.

>> The American Red Cross opened two shelters at the Pahoa and Keaau community centers. The Pahoa center had 200 residents by this afternoon while the Keaau center had 2 residents.

>> The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closed in the afternoon “for the safety of our visitors and employees” after the violent shaking from the 12:32 p.m. quake. Park officials evacuated 2,600 visitors, relocated guests at Volcano House hotel and Kilauea Military Camp, and sent home all non-emergency park employees. “Safety is our main priority at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and it is currently not safe to be here,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “We will monitor the situation closely, and reopen when it is safe to do so.”

Park officials said the quake triggered rock slides on trails, crater walls, and along Chain of Craters Road, while an earlier magnitude-5.4 quake caused a coastal cliff to collapse into the ocean near the Holei Sea Arch. The quake also caused narrow fissures in the ground at an overlook near Jaggar Museum, and rock falls into the lava lake within Halemaumau Crater, sending up dark clouds of ash.

>>The largest quake cut power to 14,400 Hawaii Electric Light Co. customers. By 2:25 p.m., service had been restored to all customers, the company reported.

>> Kua O Ka La Charter School, Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science, Keonepoko Elementary and Pahoa High, Intermediate, and Elementary were closed today.

>> About 70 members of the Hawaii National Guard were deployed to the island to help with evacuation and other efforts. Those citizen-soldiers include six from the Guard’s 93rd Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team who will help the county with air quality tests. Hawaii National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Charles Anthony said the team will bring equipment to help detect sulfur dioxide in Puna and provide air samples to the county.

Hawaii Fire Department reports extremely high levels of dangerous sulfur dioxide gas detected in the evacuation area. Elderly, young, and people with respiratory issues need to comply with the mandatory evacuation order and leave the area.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued temporary flight restrictions for the area above lower Puna until 11:59 p.m. Monday, due to the volcanic activity. The restrictions cover a five-nautical-miles radius of Pahoa, from the surface up to 3,000 feet above sea level. No pilots may operate an aircraft — including drones — in the area. Relief aircraft operations under the direction of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency are authorized in the airspace.

>> The county Department of Water Supply issued an emergency water restriction for Leilani Estates, Nanawale Estates, Kapoho and Lanipuna Gardens, telling all water customers to immediately restrict water use to health and safety needs only.

>> On Thursday, Puna Geothermal Venture operations have shut down indefinitely until further notice. County officials said the facility is secure.

All the volcanic activity in Puna — and its dramatic images — have grabbed the attention of national and international media, prompting the Hawaii Tourism Authority to remind the traveling public that most of the action is in a remote, sparsely populated area, and that most of the state is unaffected by earthquakes and molten lava.

George D. Szigeti, HTA’s president and chief executive, reassured travelers that flights haven’t been affected by the Kilauea volcano and the “area where lava is coming to the surface is very far from resort areas throughout the Hawaiian Islands where visitor accommodations are located.”

Gov. David Ige said in a statement, “We have heard from people around the world concerned about Hawaii’s welfare and want to reassure everyone that this is limited to a remote region on the slopes of Kilauea volcano. Everywhere else in the Hawaiian islands is not affected.”

Still, the quakes and flowing lava has unnerved many on the Big Isle.

State Sen. Russell Ruderman, of Keaau, said items were falling off the shelf while he was at Island Naturals, his Hilo natural food store, when the magnitude-6.9 quake struck.

“This last one was scary,” he said, adding that he lived in San Francisco for 10 years and experienced some there. “It starts rocking and keeps on going. It’s very frightening. We’re rattled.”

Evacuated Puna residents Henry and Stella Caleo, 64, said they don’t know if their home would still be standing.

“We don’t know anything,” Stella Caleo said. “We don’t know if we’re going to lose our house. We know nothing.”

The uncertainty extends to what Kilauea volcano will do next.

Late this afternoon, Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said that active volcanic vents continue on Makamae, Kaupili and Mohala streets, and near the intersection of Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Road.

They warn of “extremely dangerous conditions” due to sulfur dioxide in the evacuation area. “The high levels detected are an immediate threat to life for all who become exposed. First responders may not be able to come to the aid of residents who refuse to evacuate,” they said.

They also caution that more lava vents and more powerful earthquakes are possible in the days and weeks ahead.


For the latest information from Hawaii County, visit hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts.


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