The number of homes destroyed by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano jumped to 31 as scientists reported lava spewing more than 200 feet (61 meters) into the air.
Some of the more than 1,700 people who evacuated prepared for the possibility they may not return for quite some time.
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. Officials updated the number of lost homes after an aerial survey of the subdivision.
“That number could change,” Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder said. “This is heartbreaking.” Amber Makuakane, 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 said.
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.
Traditional Hawaiian beliefs say it depends on Pele, the volcano goddess who is said to reside in Kilauea.
“You have to ask Pele,” Steve Clapper said when asked whether he had any idea when he’d return to his Leilani Estates home.