Molten lava oozing out of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has now reached inhabited areas engulfing the yard of two houses located nearest the volcano early Tuesday morning.
The lava flow has been approaching Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island for weeks now advancing at a rate of about 10 to 15 yards per hour. Pahoa serves as the commercial center of the island's Puna district, where people from the surrounding towns go to for grocery, medical services and other necessities.
While the movement of the lava is slower when compared with what is often projected in movies, the molten lava, which the United States Geological Survey (USGS) says is upwards of 1,650 degrees F, can prove to be destructive to everything in its path.
Officials have warned that the advancing lava is hot enough to incinerate roads, homes and businesses urging residents who live in the projected path of the lava to make the necessary preparations to evacuate.
"The last couple of days we've been going door-to-door, working with residents in the area, preparing them for an evacuation, and it's likely tonight we will begin some of those evacuations based on the conditions we are seeing," said Hawaii County Civil Defense director Darryl Oliviera. "For the most part, the residents have been preparing for this."
Although the authorities have not yet issued a mandatory evacuation, many of these residents in the affected community have already moved out of their homes. Hawaii County Civil Defense worker Francesca Martin-Howe said that most of the residents have already vacated their homes and there are now a few people left.
54-year old Kay Furse, who works at the Kalani Oceanside Retreat in Pahoa, said that people had been vacating things from their homes over the past month.
"It's been stressful, a lot of anticipation and waiting and wondering," Furse said. "I think people accept it and are prepared for it."
Officials have been working so the power poles are protected from burning and to create detour areas in case the main road would be cut off cutting access for thousands of people. The civil defense agency has built two roads to serve as routes for residents escaping the lava flow. Workers from a power company also install 70-foot-tall poles that are heat resistant.
The Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983. The USGS said that between 1983 and 1990, lava flow from the volcano has already destroyed over 180 homes.