Rocks Blasted Out of Fissure From Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano

A map of the evacuation zones

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano spewed ash almost six miles (9 km) into the sky on Thursday and scientists warned this could be the first in a string of more violent explosive eruptions with the next possibly occurring within hours. Epic Lava tour operator John Tarson is an early-riser and said he only learned about the eruption because he received an alert on his phone.

Today's eruption prompted a shelter in place warning, residents were told to keep their windows closed and be prepared for ash fall and even small rock fragments.

Two astronauts also reported being able to see an ash plume from the volcano from space earlier this week.

"We expect activity could wax and wane like this in the near future", she added.

Pahoa fire station recorded a "red level" of sulfur dioxide, meaning the gas would cause choking and an inability to breathe, Fenix Grange of the Hawaii Department of Health told a news conference in Hilo.

Robert Hughes owns the Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast, about a mile and a half from the crater.

Large amounts of lava are still spewing out of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano some 14 hours after a big eruption on Thursday morning.

She said both of her children - Kahele Rodrigues, two, and Kayden Rodrigues, three months old - were doing OK, but she and her fiance had both been sneezing all day. The threat was significant enough, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, that some first responders were pulled back from their positions on Thursday to safer areas. Civil defense workers handed out one ash mask per family member in communities close to Kilauea to protect residents from the powdered rock, which is not poisonous but causes irritation to eyes and airways.

And as for the so-called "big one", geologists say it's a waiting game. "Now they're acting like it's all super-dangerous and everything, but it just kind oozes out".

Thermal map showing lava spread
USGSThis thermal map shows lava spread over the lower Pahoa area

Volcanic ash is expected to reach the region to the southwest and west of the Kilauea Volcano Summit (Halemaumau Crater), including cities of Wood Valley, Pahala, Punaluu, Naalehu, and Hawaiian Oceanview Estates, the National Weather Service said in an advisory.

Officials have said the eruption isn't likely to be risky as long as people stay out of the closed park.

It is one of the most active in the world and has been erupting continuously, though not explosively, for more than 30 years.

Authorities warned citizens to beware of fallen utility lines and poles, and the spread of toxic gas emanating from the ash plumes.

"When that happens, the groundwater gets superheated, flashes to steam and can generate big explosions", Malone said.

"They said they slept through it".

Residents as far away as Hilo, about 50 kilometres from Kilauea, were starting to notice the volcano's effects.

It's among the five volcanoes that form the Big Island, and it's the only one actively erupting.

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