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Volcano destroys dozens of homes

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PAHOA, Hawaii—Hawaii's Kilauea volcano destroyed 26 homes and spewed lava hundreds of feet into the air, leaving evacuated residents unsure how long they might be displaced.

In revised figures released yesterday, Hawaii County officials said another four unspecified structures were covered by lava.

Hawaii officials said the decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas, and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano.

Some of the more than 1,700 residents who have been evacuated were allowed to briefly return to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities.

Officials say residents would be able to do so each day until further notice as authorities monitor which areas are safe.

Amber Makuakane Kane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was destroyed by lava.

The dwelling was across from a fissure that opened Friday, when “there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard but everything looked fine,” Makuakane recalled.

On Saturday, she received alerts from her security system that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered.

She later confirmed that lava had covered her property.

Makuakane grew up in the area and lived in her house for nine years. Her parents also live in Leilani Estates.

“The volcano and the lava—it's always been a part of my life,” she noted.

“It's devastating . . . but I've come to terms with it.”

Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow.

There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.

“There's more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.

Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighbourhood near Leilani Estates.

One of the year's first harvests had been planned for this weekend.

“If we lose our farm, we don't know where we're going to go. You lose your income and you lose your home at the same time,” said McArthur, who's had the farm for about 20 years.

“All you can do is pray and hope and try to get all the information you can.”

About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.

The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighbourhood grew overnight from eight to as many as 10, Stovall said, although some have quieted at various points.

Regardless, USGS scientists expect fissures to keep spewing.

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