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Hawaii's Lava Flows Force More Residents Out Of Their Homes


In Hawaii, some 2,000 people are still waiting to get back into their homes after the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island spewed all this lava into residential neighborhoods. The lava burned homes and buildings.

JEREMY WILSON: It smells like burning asphalt and trees and sounds like a engine going off. You hear popping and rocks. And it looks like a - you know, there's a mix of, like, liquid red and orange and, like - along with, like, the black cinder rock that kind of drags along, leaving behind, like, a white ash.


That's Jeremy Wilson, who lives with his family in Leilani Estates, one of two neighborhoods that have been the hardest hit by the lava flows.

MARTIN: So here's what happened. Last week, the floor of this volcano collapsed, and it pushed a pool of lava back underground. And then the island literally sprang a leak. Twelve fissures cracked open in neighborhoods.

INSKEEP: Wow. And residents are still unsure when they're going to be allowed back in their homes. Having watched local news, Jeremy Wilson is pretty sure he does not have a home to return to.

WILSON: Hawaii News Now, like, literally had a view of my house catching fire. It's, like, you could see my house, the lava in my yard, the house burning.

MARTIN: The volcanic activity has mostly died down, but the area is still smothered in toxic volcanic gas. It's known as vog. So authorities are keeping people away for the time being. April Bruxton (ph) lives in Leilani Estates, too.

APRIL BRUXTON: Just as soon as you start thinking things are calming down, all of a sudden, new fissures were opening up. It's so volatile. There's no way to tell when it's going to happen.

INSKEEP: Ms. Bruxton has been trying to stay close by.

BRUXTON: I've just been sleeping in the cab of my truck so that I could be close by my house in case they let me back in. As of right now, I can still pull up my video cameras, so I'm watching my house from my security system. That's the only way I really have of knowing if my house is still standing. I'm figuring, if I lose power again, that means lava's taken out the power poles.

INSKEEP: Wow. No major injuries or deaths have been reported. Officials say they're hoping that people can start returning to their homes soon - at least, those whose homes still remain.

(SOUNDBITE OF SPANIOL AND MERAKI'S "CONFISSAO") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.