Volunteer Chasity Quihano, right, uses a flashlight to sort donated goods in a container at a makeshift donation center, Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii County officials have issued a cellphone alert warning residents of a subdivision to immediately evacuate after two new lava fissures opened in a neighboring community. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Volcanic gases prompt door-to-door evacuation in Hawaii

Hawaii County officials have issued a cellphone alert warning residents of a subdivision to immediately evacuate

Police went door-to-door in Hawaii to roust residents near two new vents emitting dangerous gases in areas where lava has been pouring into streets and backyards for the past week.

Authorities ordered nearly 2,000 residents to leave two communities in the mostly rural district of Puna on Hawaii’s Big Island last Thursday. Some ignored the order and stayed to watch over their property.

But on Tuesday, the emergence of the two new vents prompted Hawaii County to issue a cellphone alert ordering stragglers in Lanipuna Gardens to get out immediately. Police followed up with personal visits.

“There were a number of people at their residences,” Talmadge Magno, the administrator for Hawaii County Civil Defence, said at a news briefing. There was no sign of holdouts in Lanipuna afterward, he said.

Related: Hawaiian volcanic eruption leaves former Vancouver resident shaken

Related: Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations

Edwin Montoya, 76, had planned to stay to care for animals and keep looters away from his family’s property in neighbouring Leilani Estates. But he was forced to evacuate after the new fissures emerged, including one just a mile away.

“I’m in my truck right now on my way up the road,” he said. “The police came down here and made me.”

Both communities are in a forested, remote part of the Big Island on the eastern flank of Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously since 1983.

In recent years the volcano has mostly released lava in hard-to-reach areas inside a national park or along the coastline. But last week, vents popped open and released lava, gas and steam inside residential neighbourhoods.

There’s no indication when the eruption might stop, or how far the lava might spread.

There were about 1,700 residents in Leilani Estates and a few hundred in Lanipuna Gardens before last week.

Andrew Nisbet evacuated last week and has no idea what has happened since.

“My home is right in the line of the major breakouts so maybe, maybe not.” he said Monday during a community meeting.

Authorities urged Scott Wiggers to evacuate, but he refused.

“I’m in the safest part in the subdivision. There’s no threat to my house whatsoever,” said Wiggers, a tour guide.

Wiggers said he wasn’t leaving his home on the outskirts of the evacuation zone because he worried that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to get back in. But he’s prepared in case the situation takes a turn.

“I am packed. My truck is loaded. I’m not a dumb-dumb. If I see a threat, I’m out of here,” he said.

Officials warn that lava could flow downhill and burn areas that are not currently in danger, and toxic volcanic gas could kill people, especially the elderly and those with breathing problems.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige told evacuees he has called the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to tell officials that he believes the state will need help to deal with the volcano on the Big Island.

There are 14 lava-and-gas producing fissures in Leilani Estates, after the two new ones formed Tuesday. But the flow of lava is not constant.

A total of 36 structures, including 26 confirmed homes, have been destroyed. Aerial surveys cannot make out whether some of the structures are homes or other types of buildings.

Related: Despite risks, volcano offers affordable piece of paradise

___

Associated Press journalists Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Audrey McAvoy contributed to this report.

Caleb Jones And Sophia Yan, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kettle Valley Steam Railway holds train ride of terror

Summerland tourist train will have Halloween-themed events

Penticton Vees alumni has NHL jersey retired by Anaheim Ducks

Paul Kariya played with the Penticton Vees from 1990-1992

Ballet Kelowna to kick off 16th season with pair of premiers

Fresh off performances in Beijing and Toronto, company will perform at KCT Nov. 16 and 17

Man charged with attempted murder in Oliver back in court

Andrew Bradley Miller pleaded guilty to charges of resisting arrest and failure to appear in court

Bittersweet ending for Penticton soccer player with UBC-O Heat

Bret Depner was honoured at his last UBC-Okanagan Heat soccer game

B.C. sailor surprised by humpback whale playing under her boat

Jodi Klahm-Kozicki said the experience was ‘magical’ near Denman Island

Ovechkin has 4 points as Caps rough up Canucks 5-2

WATCH: Defending champs pick up impressive win in Vancouver

World Junior Hockey fever hits Vernon

Vipers spice up floor ball demonstration at OK Landing School

Shuswap refugee family settles into new, more hopeful life

Father of 10th Syrian family to come to Salmon Arm says learning English, work, top priorities

RCMP seek missing Vernon man

Michael Ramsey, 49, was last seen Oct. 21

B.C. government moves to tighten resource industry regulations

New superintendent will oversee engineers, biologists, foresters

Election watchdog seeks digitally savvy specialists to zero in on threats

Move follows troublesome evidence of online Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election

Most Read