21 homes destroyed by Hawaii lava flows

Lava on Mohala Street in Leiliani Estates in Hawaii

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) _ Officials say 21 homes have now been destroyed in Hawaii by lava flowing from Kilauea volcano, based on an aerial survey by the fire department.

Residents of Leilani Estates are still being allowed to briefly return to gather medicines, pets and other essentials.

No children are allowed in the area.

Officials said molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.

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12:40 p.m.

A single mother of two says she is devastated that her Big Island home was burned to the ground by a lava flow.

Amber Makuakane confirmed to the AP on Sunday that her property in Leilani Estates is one of at least nine that officials say was destroyed by Kilauea volcano.

The 37-year-old elementary school teacher says her three-bedroom house was right across from a fissure that had opened Friday. She says there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard initially but everything looked fine.

But she received alerts Saturday that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered. She later confirmed that lava had covered her entire property.

Makuakane grew up in the area, and despite the risks, wanted to remain close to her family.

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10:55 a.m.

Officials on Hawaii’s Big Island say what started out as a small spattering of lava rom the ground only took minutes to become cascading fountains.

U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall says lava fountains spewed as high as 230 feet (70 meters) into the air Saturday night only 15 minutes after the initial eruption from a new fissure.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder says only one fissure has active lava flowing, though at last count a total of nine vents had opened up as of 9:30 p.m.

Snyder says it’s all part of a little chain of events and that these “breakouts” are following a path.

She says the plan remains to allow some evacuated residents to return to Leilani Estates to retrieve important items, though that is subject to change.

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9:25 a.m.

Officials in Hawaii now say nine homes have been destroyed by lava flowing from Kilauea volcano.

Big Island civil defense officials also said Sunday morning two new fissures, or vents where lava has broken through the ground, have emerged in the Leilani Estates subdivision.

That brings the total of fissures to 10 since the eruption began late Thursday afternoon, but a scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey says one of those vents has gone dormant.

Officials say active venting of lava and dangerous levels of volcanic gases continue between two main roads in the subdivision, where more than 1,700 people have been ordered to evacuate.

Officials say some residents will be allowed to complete evacuation of pets, get medicine and grab vital documents.

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7 p.m.

The number of homes destroyed by lava bursting out of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has climbed to five.

The figure rose as many evacuees prepared for the eruption to last for weeks or even months.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory said eight volcanic vents opened in the Big Island residential neighborhood of Leilani Estates since Thursday. The vents initially spewed lava but had calmed down by late Satuday and were only releasing steam and gas.

Scientists say Kilauea is likely to release more lava through more vents, but they’re unable to forecast exactly where the lava will appear.

The Leilani Estates area is at the greatest risk for more lava outbreaks.

Hawaii County has ordered more than 1,700 people to evacuate Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens.