Lava reaches first house in Hawaii

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A slow-moving stream of lava has finally reached the first house in a rural Hawaii town.

The molten rock hit the house in Pahoa, the largest town in Big Island’s isolated and mostly agricultural Puna district, and set it on fire. The rented home’s occupants had already left.

The lava from the Kilauea volcano emerged from a vent in June and entered Pahoa on October 26 when it crossed a country road at the edge of town.

Since then, it has smothered part of a cemetery and burned down a garden shed. It also burned tyres, some metal materials and vegetation in its path.

Firefighters will let a structure burn but fight any blazes that spread or threaten other structures, according to Hawaii County Civil Defence.

A relative of the home’s owners, who live on the mainland, was planning to be at the site to watch the house burn, fire service spokesman Darryl Oliveira said. He added that officials made arrangements for homeowners to watch any homes burn as a means of closure and to document the destruction for insurance purposes.

The leading edge of the molten rock had stalled on October 30 but lava was breaking away at several spots upslope. The leading edge remained about 480ft from Pahoa Village Road, the main route through the area.

Crews have been working on alternative routes to be used when lava hits Highway 130, considered a lifeline for the Puna district.

Many residents have evacuated or are ready to leave if necessary.

Published: Tuesday 11th November 2014 by The News Editor

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