Lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano destroyed hundreds more homes overnight, overtaking two oceanfront communities that were advised to evacuate last week, officials said Tuesday.
No injuries were reported as most residents heeded advice to leave.
The homes lost are in addition to at least 117 destroyed and reported by county officials since lava began spilling from cracks in the ground that opened up in a mostly rural district of the Big Island last month.
“We don’t have an estimate yet, but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland last night,” Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County, said Tuesday.
A morning overflight confirmed that lava completely filled Kapoho Bay, inundated most of Vacationland and covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.
Lava early Tuesday claimed Big Island Mayor Harry Kim’s second home in Vacationland, Snyder said.
County Managing Director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots was also threatened. Okabe described the area as a mix of vacation rentals and year-round residences.
“For us it’s more of a vacation area, but for those who live there permanently, they’re trying to figure out where they’re going to be living,” he said.
“He was very depressed,” Okabe said of how Kim felt about losing his vacation home. Kim and Okabe live in Hilo, the county’s seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.
Those who live or vacation in the area were mourning the loss of popular tide-pools where kids enjoyed swimming.
Thousands in the Puna area had to evacuate after the first fissure opened May 3. Officials had issued mandatory orders for residents of Leilani Estates and those in Kapoho Beach and Vacationland were advised to leave by last Friday or risk being trapped and unreachable by emergency crews.
Homes in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland are on smaller lots and are closer together than in other parts of the Puna district. Okabe estimated there are several hundred homes in each of the two subdivisions.