PAHOA, Hawaii Island (AP) — The number of homes destroyed by Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano jumped to 35 Monday night as scientists reported lava spewing more than 200 feet 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.”

In this Saturday, May 5, 2018 photo, a new fissure erupts in Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed homes and forced the evacuations of more than a thousand people. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)
A new fissure erupts Saturday in Leilani Estates in Pahoa. AP

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 morning, 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.

“They don’t really understand,” she said about her children. “My son keeps asking me, ‘Mommy when are we going to go home?’”

Makuakane grew up in the area and lived in her house for nine years. Her parents also live in Leilani Estates.

“The volcano and the lava — it’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “It’s devastating … but I’ve come to terms with it.”

There was no indication when the lava might stop or how far it might spread.

Cherie McArthur and Michael McGuire, who live in the mandatory evacuation zone near Kilauea volcano, talk at a shelter in Pahoa, Hawaii on Sunday, May 6, 2018. Officials on Hawaii's Big Island say what started out as a small spattering of lava from the ground Saturday night only took minutes to become cascading fountains. U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall says lava fountains spewed as high as 230 feet (70 meters) into the air only 15 minutes after the initial eruption from a the latest of several new fissures in the area. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)
Cherie McArthur and Michael McGuire, who live in the mandatory evacuation zone, talk at a shelter in Pahoa on Sunday. AP

“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.

Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighborhood near Leilani Estates. One of the year’s first harvests had been planned for this weekend.

“If we lose our farm, we don’t know where we’re going to go. You lose your income and you lose your home at the same time,” said McArthur, who’s had the farm for about 20 years. “All you can do is pray and hope and try to get all the information you can.”

About 240 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.

Officials let some residents return briefly Sunday to fetch pets, medicine and documents.

Police and Hawaii National Guardsmen ran a roadblock on the southern side of Pahoa, checking motorists’ identification to verify they live in the Leilani Estates subdivision. Jason Armstrong/Civil Beat

Evacuees created long waiting lines at both of the subdivision’s entrances. Police and Hawaii National Guardsmen checked motorists’ identification to ensure only residents entered the neighborhood. One officer estimated the wait to be at least an hour at the Highway 130 entrance.

Many drove trucks stuffed with furniture, appliances and other possessions that had been threatened by the advancing flows. A few cargo vans rolled past.

The process was orderly, with motorists appearing to wait patiently.

Meanwhile, activities less than a mile away in downtown Pahoa appeared typical for a sunny Sunday afternoon. Tourists shopped, residents disposed of trash at the transfer station and some of the town’s young hippies congregated in and around the eclectic awa bar. One surf shop had posted a sign offering a 25 percent clothing discount to lava evacuees. Just north of town, a popular farmers market was busy as usual.

The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighborhood grew overnight from eight to as many as 10, Stovall said, though some have quieted at various points. Regardless, USGS scientists expect fissures to keep spewing.

The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983. The USGS’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory issued a notice in mid-April that there were signs of pressure building in underground magma, and a new vent could form on the cone or along what’s known as the East Rift Zone.

The crater floor began to collapse Monday, triggering earthquakes and pushing lava into new underground chambers that carried it toward Leilani Estates and nearby communities. A magnitude-6.9 earthquake — Hawaii’s largest in more than 40 years — hit the area Friday.

Civil Beat columnist Jason Armstrong contributed to this report.

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