Hilo, HI -
A volcanic eruption is underway on the big Island of Hawaii tonight. The Kilauea volcano rumbling to life over the past few days, first with swarms of small earthquakes followed by a larger 5.0 magnitude earthquake on Thursday that sent a huge plume of ash and smoke soaring into the sky. The volcanic alert level raised to "warning status," the highest possible level.
A 6.9 magnitude earthquake shaking the island this evening, cutting power to more than 14 thousand people, and adding to already mounting fears about the eruption. The USGS saying the earthquake was not large enough to trigger a tsunami, but may increase volcanic activity.
Yesterday afternoon, cracks opening up in the ground throughout the Leilani Estates Subdivision on the southeast portion of the island, sending molten lava spewing over 100 feet into the air and flowing down residential streets. The eruptions forcing more than 15 hundred people to evacuate.
Since it is right there behind our house, we could hear the lava exploding. - Stephen Clapper - Leilani Resident
I was just sitting, waiting and then the news came. I’m glad the house is safe, I’m just hoping no roads leading there get taken out so I can’t get back. - Jason Marrow, Evacuee
Some residents say that despite the eruption, they are not going anywhere.
I feel like as long as I'm in my house, my house is safe. - Petra Wiesenbauer, Leilani Resident
If this opens up I'll leave. If they force me to leave I'll leave other than that I ain't planning to leave. - Richard Jones, Leilani Resident
Areal footage showing lava pouring out of the fissures, setting plants and brush nearby on fire. Large cracks splitting open sidewalks, roads and driveways, venting hot gas into the air.
Sulfur dioxide can create respiratory problems, and is especially dangerous to the elderly. Prolonged exposure can also cause burns, sore throats, and burning eyes. People with breathing problems are urged to leave the area.
It's mostly just the gas that they're concerned about. Some of the neighbors around actually said they smelled some gas. - Robert Jameson, Evacuee
Hawaii Governor David Ige activating the national guard to help with evacuations and offer extra security.
We want people to be safe. So clearly if you live in Leilani Estates you have to evacuate to the emergency shelter at Pahoa Community Center. We are working with Hawaii County Emergency Management and we would just ask the residents to stay tuned, to listen to the bulletins issued by Hawaii Emergency Management. We do expect that this will be an ongoing activity and we will provide updates as we receive them. - Gov. David Ige, D - Hawaii
Two homes have already been burned by lava flows, and there is no way to know how long the eruption will continue.