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Almost all of Kapoho Beach Lots, Vacationland consumed by lava

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Lava from fissure 8 fills Kapoho Bay, left, and covers Champagne Ponds (center, where the laze plume is) late Monday afternoon in lower Puna. Note the wall of lava, left.

Virtually all of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland were wiped out by lava Tuesday morning, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Civil Defense spokesperson Janet Snyder said at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday that all but the northernmost tip of Kapoho Beach Lots have been inundated with lava, while only the coast of Vacationland remains after the lava flow from fissure 8 rapidly advanced overnight.

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Lava also began flowing into the Kapoho tide pools overnight, destroying the popular snorkeling destination, Snyder said.

An official count of homes destroyed has yet to be released, but Snyder said that, because nearly all of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland were covered, the number is expected to be in the hundreds.

One of Mayor Harry Kim’s homes was among those destroyed, Snyder said.

There were approximately 500 homes in the area.

Snyder said Kapoho Bay is almost completely filled with lava, with the flow from fissure 8 protruding 0.7 miles into the bay. The flow destroyed another beloved natural feature, the Champagne Ponds, Monday evening.

Residents are again advised to keep their distance from the lava entering the ocean as the laze produced can cause lung damage and skin irritation.

Snyder said the trade winds are expected to remain steady Tuesday and Wednesday, but they may die down Thursday and Friday.

An estimated 401 evacuees are staying in the two Red Cross shelters, Snyder said. The Red Cross will begin case work with evacuees this week.

The Keaau Armory shelter is at capacity.

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Despite rumors to the contrary, Snyder said Hawaii County Parks and Recreation’s Summer Fun Program will not be cancelled this year. Summer Fun, which begins June 12, will be free at Pahoa Elementary School.

At the Kilauea summit, another explosion occurred early Tuesday morning, accompanied by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. While Snyder said the quake was hardly noticeable by anyone, additional cracks developed on Hawaii Belt Road in the park.

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