HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A lava flow has destroyed the last home in a vast but sparsely populated neighborhood in the Big Island’s Puna district, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Sunday.
The neighborhood’s last resident, Jack Thompson, left his home about an hour before the river of molten rock plowed down a hill and burned his house to the ground Friday evening, the newspaper reported.
“I got as much stuff out (of) there as was practical, and everything else, had to leave it,” Thompson said. The lava was “pretty much coming in the back as we were going out the front.”
The destruction of Thompson’s home of nearly 30 years comes after years of lava flows from the Kilauea volcano.
Over the years, the lava has destroyed other homes and cut off roads to the neighborhood. Thompson said his last neighbor’s house was destroyed in 2008.
“I’ve been preparing for this for years. You’re hoping for the best, but in time expect the inevitable,” he said. “It could have gone somewhere else just as easily, but this time I was in the way.”
The volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, but Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists warned several weeks ago that the lava was becoming more active.