Hawaii Lava Eruption: ‘I Can See My House Burning,’ Says Resident

“I couldn’t go up my road,” he said. “It had huge, huge coverage of lava, probably close to 10 feet tall.”

He drove around to another street, where an inch-wide crack, spewing steam and growing in size, bisected the road.


Residents faced traffic jams as they tried to check on their homes in Pahoa on Sunday.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

“I debated, then I just decided to go, so I gunned it,” he said. When he got to his street, he knew his trip had been in vain.

He called two neighbors to tell them their houses were gone. “I look at mine and I can see my house burning,” he said. “At that point I called my wife and said there’s no reason for you to come, there’s nothing to get.”

According to an update from the civil defense agency, 35 structures have been destroyed.

The agency said residents of the Leilani subdivision would be allowed back into their neighborhood from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily to check on their property and remove possessions. Lanipuna Gardens was closed, however, because of dangerous volcanic gases, the agency said.


A lava flow in Leilani Estates.

United States Geological Survey/EPA, via Shutterstock

Nonresidents were warned to keep away. “Please, the residents of Leilani need your help,” the agency said. “This is not the time for sightseeing. You can help tremendously by staying out of the area.”

Fountains of lava have reached heights of 330 feet, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. One video posted by the observatory showed orange and black lava belching smoke and flames as it crawled down a residential street. Other images taken by helicopter showed molten rock inching across the subdivision, setting alight the structures it touched.

While the property damage is increasing, no deaths or injuries have been reported.

Mr. Dalton, who works for Spectrum Cable, said he, his wife, Denise, their 4-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were unscathed. But their house was a complete loss, and for now they are staying with friends.

He expressed frustration at not having been allowed to return earlier to remove items before his house burned. But he praised the support of his community, which has helped displaced families and created online networks that have been the quickest source for detailed information.

“Furniture, clothing, you name it, everything we own is gone,” he said. “We have two vehicles. I have my family, and I have my health. It could be worse.”

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