HONOLULU — Lava from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano destroyed hundreds more homes overnight, overtaking two oceanfront communities where residents were advised to evacuate last week, officials said Tuesday.
No injuries were reported as most residents heeded the advice to leave.
The latest lost homes were in addition to at least 117 others that were previously reported by officials since lava began spilling last month from cracks in the ground in a mostly rural district of the Big Island.
“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 had 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 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 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.
One shelter was full Tuesday, officials said.
Okabe said Kim was depressed 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.
Kapoho resident Mark Johnson was coming to terms with the possibility of losing his home and 5-acre citrus farm.
“I’m really kind of at peace actually,” he said. “I’ve had 28 years of wonderful experience down there in Kapoho.”
Johnson evacuated last week when authorities with bullhorns arrived at 1 a.m. saying it was time to get their things and leave.
He didn’t expect the lava flow to head his way. “God only knows what it’s going to do next,” he said.
He wants to return if lava spares his home on a ridge overlooking the ocean. But it’s unclear how long it would take to re-open access to the area, he said.
Those who live or vacation in the area were mourning the loss of popular tide-pools where kids enjoyed swimming.
Thousands of people in the Puna area had to evacuate after the first fissure opened May 3. Officials issued mandatory orders for residents of Leilani Estates, and those in Kapoho Beach and Vacationland were advised to leave last Friday or risk being trapped and unreachable by emergency crews.
Homes in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland are on smaller lots and closer together than those in other parts of the Puna district. Okabe estimated there are several hundred homes in each of the two subdivisions.