PAHOA, Hawaii (CBS): — The number of homes destroyed by lava shooting out of openings in the ground created by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano climbed to five. Some of the more than 1,700 people who evacuated prepared for the possibility they may not return for quite some time.
“I have no idea how soon we can get back,” said Todd Corrigan, who left his home in Leilani Estates with his wife on Friday as lava burst through the ground three or four blocks from their home. They spent the night on the beach in their car and began looking for a vacation rental.
CBS affiliate KGMB-TV reports that two new vents opened in the neighborhood on Saturday, bringing the total to 10. Video footage showed lava shooting into the air.
Earlier, the older fissures, each several hundred yards long, had quieted down and were only releasing steam and gas.
Hundreds of small earthquakes continued to rumble through the area Saturday, one day after a magnitude-6.9 temblor hit – the largest earthquake to hit Hawaii in more than 40 years. Magma moving through Kilauea set off the earthquakes, said geologists, who warned of aftershocks.
Authorities cautioned sulfuric gas pouring out of the vents also posed dangers, particularly to the elderly and people with respiratory problems. Hawaii County spokeswoman Kanani Aton said some residents may be allowed to return home briefly to pick up medicine or take care of pets if sulfur dioxide levels drop.
Tesha “Mirah” Montoya, 45, said the threat of toxic fumes wasn’t enough to make her family evacuate, but the tipping point was the earthquakes.
“I felt like the whole side of our hill was going to explode,” she said. “The earthquake was what made us start running and start throwing guinea pigs and bunnies in the car.”