World & Nation

Lava from Hawaii volcano ignites home in Big Island town

A stream of lava set a home on fire Monday in a rural Hawaii town that has been watching the slow-moving flow approach for months.

The molten rock hit the house just before noon, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. The home’s renters already had left the residence in Pahoa, the largest town in the Big Island’s isolated and mostly agricultural Puna district.

It took about 45 minutes for the home to be destroyed by the lava, Oliveira said. 

The lava from Kilauea volcano emerged from a vent in June and entered Pahoa on Oct. 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.


There are no other structures in the immediate area of the home that was destroyed, but the lava continues to move, Oliveira said. 

The leading edge of the molten rock had stalled Oct. 30, but lava was breaking away at several spots upslope. The leading edge remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, the main street.

Crews have been working on other 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.


Imelda Raras lives on the other end of Apaa Street from where the lava burned its first house. She and her family have put a lot of their belongings in storage and are prepared to go to a friend’s home if the lava gets close.

“I’m scared right now,” she said as she watched smoke from the burning house. “What will happen next? We will be waiting.”

The homeowner of the house that was burning had arranged weeks ago to relocate horses and other animals, Raras said.

“I think our lives will be unstable,” she said. “I hope our house will be spared.”

The family is ready to go, but Raras said they will do so with heavy hearts.

“Because it’s hard to leave your own house,” she said. “It’s one of the hardest things to do.”

Times staff writer Ryan Parker contributed to this report.