High levels of “dangerous” sulfur dioxide gas was detected in the air early Friday morning. Fire officials on the Big Island said elderly residents, young people and others with respiratory issues were most susceptible to the poor air quality. A temporary flight restriction was in place for most of lower Puna.
Earlier eruptions were reported at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET), about six hours after a magnitude-5.0 earthquake rattled the active Kilauea volcano following several days of smaller tremors, said the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, an agency of the U.S. Geological Survey.
The observatory said the lava was erupting from the volcano’s lower East Rift Zone. NBC affiliate KHNL of Honolulu quoted residents as saying they could see lava spilling from cracks in roadways.
Ikaika Marzo said he first noticed fountains of lava spouting 100 feet, and scrambled to call everyone he knew in the area.
“When we drove on that road, we heard a noise in the forest and it was like a little thump,” he told KHNL. “Next thing, like three to five seconds after that, we smelled sulfur. After that, that’s when there was tons of sulfur. Then we saw some lava popping out.”
Some residents took the evacuations in stride.
“I’m just hoping that it doesn’t hurt anybody’s home or hurt anyone, wherever Pele decides to pop out,” Bailee Yamada of the Puna region told KHNL, invoking the name of the Hawaiian goddess who legend says lives on Kilauea’s summit.