A slow-moving lava flow from an erupting volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island incinerated a house on Monday, marking the first home devoured by a stream of molten rock that has crept toward the village of Pahoa for weeks, civil defense officials said.
The home had been evacuated some time ago, and no injuries were reported from the river of lava, which began oozing from Kilauea Volcano in late June. Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said no other dwellings were immediately threatened.
The home ignited just before noon local time by a finger of lava that broke out from the primary flow on Sunday, even as the leading edge came to a near standstill 480 feet (145 meters) away from Pahoa Village Road, the main street through town, officials said.
Video posted online by civil defense showed a crackling, charcoal-colored carpet of lava enveloping the grounds around the house as flames and thick smoke engulfed the single-story, wood-paneled home, causing it to collapse.
Members of the family who had lived there stood by to “document and observe” their home burning from a safe distance, said county civil defense chief Darryl Oliveira.
The only other structures destroyed in the area were a storage shed and a cattle-feeding shelter consumed by lava last month. Another offshoot of lava narrowly missed a house last month, coming within 100 feet of that building.
Residents of about 50 homes in the projected path of the lava have been making preparations to flee for weeks, many emptying their houses of belongings in case an evacuation became necessary.
Pahoa, a town of about 800 people, stands on the site of a former sugar cane plantation on the eastern edge of the Big Island. Most of the town’s business district lies to the south of the area in greatest danger.
Kilauea’s current eruption began in 1983, and the flow of lava that has menaced Pahoa began bubbling out of the volcano’s Pu’u O’o vent on June 27 and has crept a distance of 13 1/2 miles since then. The leading edge of the lava can reach temperatures of about 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (1,149 degrees Celsius).
Previous lava flows from Kilauea destroyed more than 180 homes between 1983 and 1990, but until this week no dwellings had been lost to the volcano since 2012.
(Reporting by Karin Stanton; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Sandra Maler and Ken Wills)