Hawaii's Kilauea volcano erupts, forcing hundreds of residents to evacuate

This 2014 image shows lava advancing toward Pahoa

Using his drone, area resident Jeremiah Osuna captured video footage of the red-hot lava flow, describing it as a "curtain of fire".

"It sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could". Other residents also told the news network that they smelled burning brush and heard tree branches snapping.

Authorities ordered residents of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens to evacuate to two community centers, which are serving as shelters.

People trying to enter the subdivision to see the lava were frustrating evacuation efforts, but overall the evacuations were going well, Kim said.

The geological survey raised the volcano's alert level to warning status, the highest possible, meaning a hazardous eruption was imminent, underway or expected.

When was the last time Kilauea had a major eruption?

County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate because an eruption would give little warning. Lava flows from the volcano have covered 48 square miles (125 square km), according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Lava is emitting from a crack in the street on Mohala Street in that subdivision.

About 1,500 people were evacuated after the volcano erupted Thursday.

"I don't think people thought this would actually happen", he said.

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Earlier throughout the week, hundreds of earthquakes were reported in the area of the volcano, the largest being a 5.0 which prompted mandatory evacuations in residential areas near Kilauea. Hot vapour emerged from a crack and spattering lava began to erupt. The activity continued early Friday, with reports of eruptions from volcanic vents on two streets.

The first signs of trouble in Leilani Estates came about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, when residents reported plumes of smoke spewing from cracks in the road.

It's located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has since closed off almost 15,700 acres due to "the possibility of a new eruption and unstable geologic activity".

The Puu Oo crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering a series of earthquakes and pushing the lava into new underground chambers.

The collapse caused magma to push more than 10 miles (16km) downslope toward the populated south east coastline of the island.

USGS geologist Janet Babb said the magma crossed under Highway 130, which leads to a popular volcano access point, on Tuesday night.

Civil defence officials have warned the public about high levels of sulfur dioxide near the volcano, one reason for the evacuation orders.

Governor David Ige said residents were being housed in community centres until the danger from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanos, has passed.

But with lava setting trees ablaze and threatening homes, and with gas coming out of cracks in the ground, Clapper went back to the home, got his mother and the dogs, swept up some of his clothes in one arm, and took off for a shelter.

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