Civil Defense: 26 homes destroyed by lava

  • DEMIAN BARRIOS/Special to the Tribune-Herald Smoke rises as lava crosses Leilani Avenue Saturday in Leilani Estates.

A total of 26 homes have been destroyed by lava from Kilauea volcano in Leilani Estates subdivision, Hawaii County Civil Defense said at a 3 p.m. Sunday briefing. That’s 17 more homes destroyed since the Sunday morning count.

Also according to Civil Defense, Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory reported Sunday morning that two more fissures developed overnight between Leilani and Mamala streets near Luana and Kupono Street.

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Active venting of lava and hazardous fumes continues between Mohala and Pomaikai streets in the lower Puna subdivision of about 1,700 residents. County officials said Sunday sulfur dioxide levels are “elevated” from Sunday morning.

Conditions permitting, Leilani Estates residents with properties between Highway 130 and Maile Street were allowed to enter the subdivision to complete evacuation of pets, medicine, and vital documents left behind until 6 p.m. today. Residents were urged to retrieve their belongings expeditiously so others may go in after them.

Civil Defense officials warn residents to be aware of the unstable conditions of air quality, especially sulfur dioxide gas, and of the roads. Officials will require those allowed in to leave the area if conditions become hazardous.

Residents seeking to enter the subdivision will be required to provide ID and proof of residency in Leilani Subdivision. A primary police checkpoint is established at the corner of Highways 130 and 132 across from Pahoa High School, with a secondary checkpoint is set up at the intersection of Highway 130 and Leilani Street.

Traffic backed up at the checkpoint as residents waited to be screened before entering Leilani Estates.

Those entering were advised to be alert for elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, plus possible wildfire and volcanic eruption. People with respiratory problems are especially vulnerable.

Lanipuna Gardens residents are not being allowed access at this time due to the level of volcanic gases.

In addition, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced Sunday morning it will remain closed today and through tonight. 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.

If volcanic and seismic activity remain at current levels in the park, the park could partially reopen this afternoon, HVNP spokeswoman Jessica Ferracane said.

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The Tribune-Herald will update as needed.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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