There have been a number of powerful earthquakes since the volcano started erupting.
In Pahoa, the nearest village to Kilauea, some schools remained closed after the area was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on Friday, the biggest since 1975.
And while the destruction is already terrible, RT reports that the relentlessly advancing lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii is now closing in on a geothermal power plant, prompting a frantic scramble to move tens of thousands of gallons of highly flammable chemicals.
Hawaii Governor David Ige revealed that an emergency task force is removing large amounts of pentane from the Puna Geothermal Venture plant after a new fissure opened up approximately half a mile from the facility on Wednesday.
It was estimated that an enormous explosion with a blast radius of approximately a mile (1.6 kilometers) could be unleashed if the fluid ignites.
There are still nearly 50,000 gallons of pentane stored at the site, according to Hawaii News Now.
“Everything is still on property, ” Magno said. “They moved it to high ground just in case any flowings would start going that style, give them a little more day. But their plans are made to get them out of there if it gets to that next level.”
A total of 15 new fissures have appeared on Hawaii’s Big Island since the eruption began. Geologists have warned that it may now be entering a more violent phase of explosive eruptions, the likes of which Hawaii has not seen in nearly a century.
As if that was not enough to worry about, as Reuters reports, Hawaii County authorities sent a text message to residents of the southeast corner of the island warning them of a wind change that would bring rising levels of sulfur dioxide gas, which can be fatal if inhaled in large quantities.
“It’s just horrible. You can’t breathe in there,” said evacuated resident Robynn Stagg, 58, who drove through the thick, orange sulfur dioxide haze earlier this week in a failed attempt to check on her home.
Hawaii’s governor has warned that mass evacuations may be required as more fissures open in the ground and spew lava and gas into semi-rural residential areas on the east flank of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.
“A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,” he said, adding in a separate post that he has signed a request for federal disaster assistance.
The Leilani Estates community remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, most of them homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
But as the eruption progresses, “other areas of the lower East Rift Zone may also be at risk,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a bulletin.
“There is the potential for additional outbreaks,” Christina Neal, the chief scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at Kilauea told a news briefing. “There are other communities, other residential neighborhoods that could, depending on the evolution of activity, be in harm’s way.”
Kilauea is the youngest and southeastern-most volcano on the Big Island. It has actually been erupting continuously since 1983, however, its previous activity was largely confined to remote parts of the coastline.