Lava claims hundreds of homes, including Big Island mayor's
Lava claims hundreds of homes, including Big Island mayor's HNN Staff Jun 5, 2018 11:10 AM PAHOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lava from a very active fissure in lower Puna cut its way through Kapoho, destroying hundreds more homes and covering large areas of land while continuing to pour into the ocean. Hawaii County officials confirmed on Tuesday that a home owned by Mayor Harry Kim was among those claimed by the lava flow, which has already inundated most of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland. "There's a lot of destruction," said Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator. "It's like a flood — it's just pouring out, covering everything in its path. It looks like there's no stopping it." Kirk Rahmer became one of several people who lost their homes over the weekend, when he saw that his home of 18 years had been claimed by lava. “I left a lot of things behind because I didn’t want to feel as if I was abandoning my home," Rahmer said. "So I’m real sad. I’ve always considered myself a tenant of Pele, so this may be my eviction notice.” Meanwhile, officials confirmed that lava started cascading into the ocean at Kapoho Bay late Sunday. By Tuesday morning, the lava entering the ocean had built a lava delta (new land created at ocean entry) that extended nearly 3,700 feet into the bay. Geologists say lava has now completely filled Kapoho Bay. Aerial images of the half-mile wide flow hitting the sea also showed large plumes of "laze," a toxic steam mixed with glass fragments. Kathy Emery, who evacuated from her 5-acre farm in Kapoho, said she doesn't know if she has a home to go back to. "Right now, we don't have anything. And I don't know what to do," she said. "I wish I could just find out if I have a house." The ongoing flow is being fed by huge fountains — some as high as 250 feet — spewing from fissure no. 8, and follows a dramatic weekend in lower Puna. Highways 132 and 137 remain shut down due to lava inundation. On Sunday, three people who were trapped by lava in Kapoho and Vacationland were airlifted out. The state is issuing citations to those who needed to be rescued from mandatory evacuation areas. Seismic activity, meanwhile, remains very active at Kilauea. On Tuesday morning, a 5.6-magnitude quake struck near the summit. And on Sunday afternoon, 5.5-magnitude quake centered near Kilauea's summit rocked the Big Island. No tsunamis were generated by either earthquake. It was among the strongest of at least 500 quakes recorded on the Big Island over the weekend. U.S. Geological Survey officials said that was most earthquakes recorded in a 24-hour period on Hawaii Island since the eruptions started over a month ago. Also over the weekend, the flow apparently evaporated Green Lake, which was the largest freshwater lake in the islands. By about 10 a.m. Saturday, lava had crawled into Kapoho Crater, creating a huge steam plume when it hit Green Lake. The plume had ceased by 1:30 p.m. and an aerial assessment revealed the lava appeared to have filled the lake and evaporated all the water. Green Lake is believed to be four centuries old, and at least one study put its depth at 200 feet in spots. The devastating flow that cut through Kapoho can all be sourced back to fissure no. 8, which has been creating fountains of lava for 11 days straight. Ahead of the flow, authorities urged residents in Kapoho and Vacationland to flee. Separately, a mandatory evacuation zone remains in place for about half of lava-ravaged Leilani Estates. Officials began enforcing the new rules Friday. The evacuation order covers the area from Pomaikai Street to Malama Street, where ongoing eruptions and toxic emissions are making conditions unsafe. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists say the lava fountaining from fissure no. 8 is the hottest they've ever detected in this eruption and the flow it's feeding is capable of moving upwards of 600 yards per hour. This story will be updated.