LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Red-hot lava from a slow-erupting volcano ignited a house on Hawaii’s Big Island on Monday, the first home to be burnt in a village threatened by the eruption.
The lava flow from the Kilauea volcano, burning everything in its path, entered the home on Sunday, said the County of Hawaii’s Civil Defence force.
“At approximately 11.55 this morning, the residential structure… was ignited by the advancing flow,” it said in a daily update.
But there was some relief as the main lava flow front has apparently stalled about 480 feet (150 metres) from a main road into the town.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi declared a state of emergency in September after the lava advanced to within a mile (1.6 kilometres) of a residential area known as the Ka’ohe Homesteads.
President Barack Obama signed a major disaster declaration on November 3 to unlock federal resources to help local emergency protective measures.
As the lava threatens a main road in the area, authorities need to provide alternative routes and accommodate some 900 children that will be displaced by the lava, according to Governor Neil Abercrombie’s office.
Hawaii Island, or the Big Island, is the largest of the eight main islands that make up the Pacific US state – an archipelago that includes hundreds of smaller volcanic islands.