New fissure in Hawaii triggers 230-foot ‘lava fountains’

Officials on Hawaii’s Big Island say what started out as a small spattering of lava from the ground only took minutes to become cascading fountains.

In this Saturday, May 5, 2018, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava from Fissure 7 slowly advances to the northeast on Hookapu Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Pahoa, Hawaii. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall says lava fountains spewed as high as 230 feet (70 meters) into the air Saturday night only 15 minutes after the initial eruption from a new fissure.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder says only one fissure has active lava flowing, though at last count a total of nine vents had opened up as of 9:30 p.m.

Snyder says it’s all part of a little chain of events and that these “breakouts” are following a path.

She says the plan remains to allow some evacuated residents to return to Leilani Estates to retrieve important items, though that is subject to change.

Officials say 21 homes have now been destroyed in Hawaii by lava flowing from Kilauea volcano, based on an aerial survey by the fire department.

Big Island civil defense officials also said Sunday morning two new fissures, or vents where lava has broken through the ground, have emerged in the Leilani Estates subdivision.

Officials say active venting of lava and dangerous levels of volcanic gases continue between two main roads in the subdivision, where more than 1,700 people have been ordered to evacuate.

Officials say some residents will be allowed to complete evacuation of pets, get medicine and grab vital documents.

In this Saturday, May 5, 2018 photo, a new fissure erupts in Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed homes and forced the evacuations of more than a thousand people. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)