PAHOA, Hawaii — Fast-moving lava crossed a road and isolated about 40 homes Friday in a rural subdivision below Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said police, firefighters and National Guard troops were securing the area of the Big Island and stopping people from entering.

The homes were isolated in the area east of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens — two neighborhoods where lava has destroyed 40 structures, including 26 homes, over the past two weeks.

Officials were assessing how many people were still in the newly threatened area. They were advising people to shelter in place and await further instructions.

Toxic gases rise near an abandoned home in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii Friday, May 18, 2018. Hawaii residents covered their faces with masks after a volcano menacing the Big Island for weeks exploded, sending a mixture of pulverized rock, glass and crystal into the air in its strongest eruption of sandlike ash in days. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Toxic gases rise near an abandoned home in the Leilani Estates subdivision. State officials said Friday that about 40 homes homes are isolated by new lava flows in a nearby rural area.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

AP

 

County officials have been encouraging residents in the district to prepare for potential evacuations.

Edwin Montoya, who lives with his daughter on her farm near the site where lava crossed the road and cut off access, said he was at the property earlier in the day to get valuables.

“I think I’m lucky because we went there this morning and we got all the batteries out, and all the solar panels out, about $4,000 worth of equipment,” he said. “They have to evacuate the people that are trapped up there right now in the same place that we were taking pictures this morning.”

He said no one was on his property, but his neighbor had someone on his land.

“I know that the farm right next to my farm . he’s got somebody there taking care of the premises, I know he’s trapped,” Montoya said.

Montoya said the fissure that poured lava across the road opened and grew quickly.

“It was just a little crack in the ground, with a little lava coming out,” he said. “Now it’s a big crater that opened up where the small little crack in the ground was.”

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