Giant acidic steam clouds rise from ocean after lava spill in Hawaii

HOLLYN JOHNSON  Tribune-Herald Lava from fissure No. 8 oozes toward Kapoho Bay on Sunday in lower Puna. Special thanks to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

Steam billowed up from Hawaii's largest freshwater lake as lava flow evaporated its placid waters within a few hours and made it the latest casualty from the Big Island's Kilauea volcano.

County Managing Director Wil Okabe said his own vacation home in Kapoho Beach Lots is also threatened.

Mounting property losses were reported a day after five or six people who initially chose to stay in the newly evacuated Kapoho area after road access was cut off were rescued by helicopter, according to the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency.

When asked at a news conference Monday about the number of evacuations, he said he didn't have a good estimate because up to 80% of the houses in some areas are vacation rentals. The lava filling Kapoho Bay, an area that had been known for its tide pools and snorkeling, creates a delta of new earth more than a half-mile off the coastline. Lava has inundated most of Vacationland and has covered all but the northern part of Kapoho Beach Lots.

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Late Tuesday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said persistent lava fountaining at Fissure 8 was reaching heights of 150 feet to 180 feet.

Plumes of white steam and hydrochloric acid fumes, a vaporous, corrosive mix formed from lava reacting with seawater as it enters the ocean, could be seen rising from a distance.

Pomerleau said all of the vacation homes he did handyman work for are gone. His ocean-view property sits on a ridge near the base of Kapoho crater, and he thinks the lava could have missed it.

About 2,000 residents have been displaced from Leilani since earlier this month as fountains of lava and high concentrations of toxic sulfur dioxide gas continued unabated.

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There have been 9,900 earthquakes on the island since May 4 as a result of the geological activity, the USGS said, including about 500 near Kilauea's summit over the weekend, according to CNN.

"Nobody knows what comes next as far as the lava goes", Snyder told The Washington Post.

The entire neighbourhood of Vacationland on Big Island has now been covered in lava. The homes lost in the Kapoho lava flow are not a part of the county's official tally of 130.

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