HONOLULU-Lava from the Kilauea volcano destroyed hundreds of homes in a mostly rural area on the Big Island of Hawaii overnight, a county spokesperson said Tuesday. Officials had previously been updating the number of structures burned because it was hard to tell from aerial surveys which were homes or other buildings.
An estimated 500 people live in the Kapoho area, but Snyder said it was not immediately clear how many residents, if any, had chosen to stay behind.
One finger of the lava poured into a small freshwater lake, boiling away all its water late on Saturday, while another finger spilled into Kapoho Bay on Sunday night, officials said. Officials warned residents in the area to be ready to evacuate with little notice.
Kilauea, standing at 4,091 ft (1,247 metres) tall, has now been erupting for 34 days in a row, the longest since 1955.
Scientists said a laze plume was blowing inland from the ocean entry but dissipating quickly.
The US Geological Survey said the lava from the Kilauea volcano has covered an area of 5.5 square miles - four times as big as New York's Central Park.
Between May 4 and Monday, there have been almost 10,000 earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
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Officials warned the public to stay away from the plume because it can irritate skin and eyes and make it hard to breathe.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that vigorous lava eruptions continue in the Lower East Rift Zone.
But there's also danger in what's known as a laze - a deadly combination of steam, hydrochloric acid and fine glass particles (dubbed Pele's hair) - created when the lava hits the water.
The suspect was later charged with Refusing to Evacuate, Obstructing Government Operations, Resisting Order to Stop Motor Vehicle, Reckless Driving, and two counts of Reckless Endangering in the 2nd degree.
One resident, Nancy Avery, said the glass strands hurt like paper cuts, slicing into her fingers and feet, toes exposed because she wore only sandals.
All beach parks in the area, including Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, are closed.
The current activity has been accompanied for weeks by daily periodic explosions of gas and volcanic rock from Kilauea's summit crater as well as earthquakes.
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