Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
HONOLULU (AP) — A stream of lava set a home on fire Monday in a rural Hawaii town that has been watching the slow-moving flow for months.
The molten rock hit the house around midday. The home's renters already had left the residence in Pahoa, the largest town in Big Island's isolated and mostly agricultural Puna district.
HONOLULU (@AP) — Officials: Breakaway lava flow hits first house in small Hawaii town after months of watching.— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) November 10, 2014
It could take 30 to 40 minutes for the home to burn down, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.
The lava from Kilauea volcano emerged from a vent in June and entered Pahoa Oct. 26, when it crossed a country road at the edge of town. Since then, it smothered part of a cemetery and burned down a garden shed. It also burned tires, some metal materials and mostly vegetation in its path.
Lava from the Kilauea Volcano flows across the ground on November 7, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Andrew Hara/Getty Images)
Firefighters will basically let a structure burn but fight any fires that spread or threaten other structures, Oliveira said.
A relative of the home's owners, who live on the mainland, was planning to be at the site to watch the house burn, Oliveira said. He said officials made arrangements for homeowners to watch any homes burn as a means of closure and to document the destruction for insurance purposes.
The leading edge of the molten rock had stalled Oct. 30, but lava was breaking away at several spots upslope. The leading edge remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, the main route that goes through downtown.
Crews have been working on alternate routes to be used when lava hits Highway 130, considered a lifeline for the Puna district.
Many residents have evacuated or are ready to leave if necessary.
Imelda Raras lives on the other end of Apaa Street from where the lava burned its first house. She and her family have put a lot of their belongings in storage and prepared to go to a friend's home if the lava gets close.
"It's slow," she said. "Maybe there will come a time when it will be faster again."