Lava burns 5 homes as Hawaii prepares for long eruption

This Friday, May 4, 2018, aerial image released by the U.S. Geological Survey, at 12:46 p.m. HST, a column of robust, reddish-brown ash plume occurred after a magnitude 6.9 South Flank of Kīlauea earthquake shook the Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii. The Kilauea volcano sent more lava into Hawaii communities Friday, a day after forcing more than 1,500 people to flee from their mountainside homes, and authorities detected high levels of sulfur gas that could threaten the elderly and people with breathing problems. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

Hundreds of people on the Big Island of Hawaii are hunkering down for what could be weeks or months of upheaval as the dangers from an erupting Kilauea volcano grow

PAHOA, Hawaii — The number of homes destroyed by lava bursting out of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has climbed to five.

The figure rose as many evacuees prepared for the eruption to last for weeks or even months.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory said eight volcanic vents opened in the Big Island residential neighborhood of Leilani Estates since Thursday. The vents initially spewed lava but had calmed down by late Saturday and were only releasing steam and gas.

Scientists say Kilauea is likely to release more lava through more vents, but they're unable to forecast exactly where the lava will appear.

The Leilani Estates area is at the greatest risk for more lava outbreaks.

Hawaii County has ordered more than 1,700 people to evacuate Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens.

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