Burning lava, hot ash: Kilauea's human toll

May 18 (Reuters) - The spectacle of Hawaii's erupting Kilauea volcano challenges photographers of the rare display to avoid being hypnotized by it and instead look at the whole picture, including the human toll from the burning lava, hot ash and poisonous gases.

Since Kilauea began erupting on May 3, many residents of the Puna district of Hawaii’s Big Island have cleared out, even as some roadways were blocked by lava flows and gashes in the ground that spewed molten lava.

Lava flows are not new to Puna but it is unprecedented for fissures to emerge within communities like Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, which have been hard hit.

To get more of the picture, on May 13 I boarded a helicopter at the airport in Hilo, about 25 miles from Leilani Estates, and flew over the most active eruption area.

9 PHOTOS
Reuters photos of Kilauea's destruction
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Reuters photos of Kilauea's destruction
Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester SEARCH "TERRAY VOLCANO" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Volcanic gases rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A lava flow covers a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
An onlooker watches as lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano, U.S., May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Linda Dee Souza, 72, of Kalapana-Seaview, kisses one of her parrots at a Red Cross evacuation center in Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
People watch as ash erupt from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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Days of cloudy, rainy weather and restrictions from the Federal Aviation Administration had made scheduling the flight problematic, but in the end our timing was good.

At around 6 a.m., we were hovering at 4,000 feet, watching the 17th fissure of this eruption open.

It had begun only hours earlier and was already about 1,000 feet long and belching steam and chunks of lava several hundred feet into the sky. It was in a sparsely populated area east of Leilani Estates.

Still, from the helicopter I could see at least two homes within a mile of the lava.

The next day, the owner of one of them invited me to the hill-top property about a quarter of a mile above the fissure. He was sipping seltzer water with several friends, watching the spectacle from a second story porch. The fissure did not seem to pose any immediate danger, but frequent explosions in it caused his house to shudder.

The noise from those explosions and venting steam and gas was loud enough that we had to shout to communicate. He seemed fatigued, unnerved by the constant onslaught. He said he just wanted it to end.

22 PHOTOS
Hawaiians impacted by the Kilauea volcano eruptions
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Hawaiians impacted by the Kilauea volcano eruptions
Carolyn McNamara, 70, hugs her neighbor Paul Campbell, 68, at an evacuation center in Pahoa after moving out of their homes in the Puna community of Leilani Estates after the Kilauea Volcano, one of five on the island, erupted on Thursday after a series of earthquakes over the last couple of days, in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Residents of the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions, who were evacuated from their homes due to eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano, pick up supplies at a community donation center on Monday in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Piper Lynn, 37, center, eats a meal at a community donation center with her children, Kiera, 13, and Zachary, 2, from left, and her husband, Matthew Herrera, after the family was evacuated from their home due to eruptions of the nearby Kilauea Volcano on Monday in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Piper Lynn, 37, center, picks up a meal at a community donation center with her children, Jacob, 15, Zachary, 2, and Kiera, 13, from left, after the family was evacuated from their home due to eruptions of the nearby Kilauea Volcano on Monday in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Residents of the Leilani Estates subdivision pass a checkpoint while driving to their homes to pick up belongings after being evacuated due to eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano on Monday in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Brandi Barnard, 30, right, a resident of the Leilani Estates subdivision who was evacuated from her home due to eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano, picks up clothing for her children at a community donation center on Monday in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Red Cross volunteer Marilani Marciel, 59, watches donations arrive at an evacuation center in Pahoa for residents of the Puna communities of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens who were forced to leave their homes after the Kilauea Volcano erupted on Thursday in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Ron McLain, 58, watches as his husband, Michael Berry, 68, offers water to their dog at an evacuation center in Pahoa after moving out of their home in the Puna community of Leilani Estates after the Kilauea Volcano erupted on Thursday in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018.
Audrey Meyer, 49, sits with her daughters, Nicole, 7, left, and Sarah, at an evacuation center in Pahoa after moving out of their home in the Puna community of Leilani Estates after the Kilauea Volcano erupted on Thursday after a series of earthquakes over the last couple of days, in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Police check the identity of returning evacuees to Leilani Estates near the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island on May 7, 2018, after the residents were forced to evacuate following recent earthquakes and concern over toxic sulphur dioxide. - More than two dozen homes have been destroyed and dozens more are threatened by red-hot lava seeping from the Kilauea volcano, the most active in Hawaii, civil defense officials said. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A fireman walks past a sign leading to the entrance of Leilani Estates where evacuees have been returning to gather their belongings near the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island on May 7, 2018, after the residents were forced to evacuate following recent earthquakes and concern over toxic sulphur dioxide. - More than two dozen homes have been destroyed and dozens more are threatened by red-hot lava seeping from the Kilauea volcano, the most active in Hawaii, civil defense officials said. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: Parishioners pray during Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Church on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. One parishioner from the church had their home destroyed by the recent lava flows in the area. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in nearby Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: Evacuees Stacy Welch (L) and her daughter Maddy (C) check a map provided by a volunteer showing lava destruction in their Leilani Estates neighborhood on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: Parishioners pray during Sunday Mass at Sacred Heart Church on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. One parishioner from the church had their home destroyed by the recent lava flows in the area. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in nearby Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: Residents jam a street after being allowed to briefly return home to check on belongings and pets in an evacuation zone near volcanic activity on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Evacuees fill out forms before being allowed to return to their Leilani Estates homes to gather belongings on May 6, 2018, near Pahoa, Hawaii. - The Kilauea Volcano, the most active in Hawaii, was highly unstable on May 6, 2018, as lava spouted into the air and fissures emitted deadly gases -- hazards that have forced thousands of people to evacuate. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A cyclist offers the Shaka sign, also known as 'Hang Loose' while riding past a plume of volcanis smoke in the distance over the area of Leilani Estates near the town of Pahoa on May 6, 2018, as authorities allowed evacuees to return to gather belongings and head back out on Hawaii's Big Island. - The Kilauea Volcano, the most active in Hawaii, was highly unstable on May 6, 2018, as lava spouted into the air and fissures emitted deadly gases -- hazards that have forced thousands of people to evacuate. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 05: Volunteers check a phone while setting up a tent to distribute goods to evacuees beside a roadblock near volcanic activity on Hawaii's Big Island on May 5, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Many local residents are monitoring their phones for information. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 05: Evacuee Taylor Burns checks her phone in the emergency shelter where she is staying at the Pahoa Community Center on Hawaii's Big Island on May 5, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 05: Evacuees (L to R) Stacy Welch, Taylor Burns and Maddy Welch gather with their pet goose and dog outside the emergency shelter where they are staying at the Pahoa Community Center on Hawaii's Big Island on May 5, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The three said they fled their home in vehicles in the early morning along with their pets after they saw lava approaching in the distance. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4 along with new eruptions from the Kilauea volcano. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur gas into two nearby communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate in the area. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Dr. Tim Richards, a longtime veterinarian on the island and County Councilman checks on evacuee Andrew Linne's dog Scotty at the Pahoa Community Center in Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island, May 5, 2018. - A magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook Hawaii's Big Island on May 4, prompting fresh eruptions from a volcano that has been spewing lava near residential areas, forcing hundreds of people to flee. The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 12:32 pm (2232 GMT) and was centered on the south flank of the Kilauea Volcano. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Fred Lord, a resident of Black Sands near the Leilani Estates, relaxes at the Pahoa Community Center May 5, 2018 after after deciding to self-evacuate earlier in the day due to the nauseous fumes of sulphur at his residence. - A magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook Hawaii's Big Island on May 4, prompting fresh eruptions from a volcano that has been spewing lava near residential areas, forcing hundreds of people to flee. The US Geological Survey said the quake struck at 12:32 pm (2232 GMT) and was centered on the south flank of the Kilauea Volcano. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
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A caretaker and his family were at a home much closer to the fissure, which was hurling bright red semi-molten rock into the sky.

I watched chunks of lava land on a lawn and clatter off a metal roof. One crashed into a tree, where it momentarily dangled, glowing red like a Christmas ornament.

Lava chunks that fall from the sky cool quickly. One local resident, Jolon Clinton, 15, said a golf ball-sized lava bomb hit her leg. It singed her clothing but she brushed it off before her skin burned.

Intense fumes have also caused people to relocate. At a Red Cross Evacuation Center in Pahoa, 72-year-old Linda Dee Souza looked after her African Gray parrots, Clucky and Mary Magdalene, with whom she fled her home in the coastal community of Kalapana because of dangerous sulfur dioxide fumes.

She was one of hundreds who left Lower Puna over fumes and the risk that roads to their homes would be cut off.

On May 14, Halemaumau Crater near the summit of Kilauea gave up towering plumes of ash. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, is closed because of the activity.

I drove toward Halemaumau and joined people along the sides of Highway 11 and then at a golf course in a community named Volcano. The crater vented a constant screen of smoke and ash.

I was on the golf course when, just before sunset, a huge ash column shot high into the sky. Surprisingly, I found the event peaceful. I could not hear an explosion. The ground did not shake. Birds were singing.

See more from the days of eruptions: 

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Kilauea volcano erupts, sparking evacuations in Hawaii
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Kilauea volcano erupts, sparking evacuations in Hawaii
PAHOA, HI - MAY 13: Lava and smoke explodes from Fissure 17 at Leilani Estates in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, on May 13, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano's Halemaumau crater �as raised the potential for explosive eruptions�at the volcano. Authorities have confirmed a 16th lava fissure opened in the vicinity of Pahoa. (Photo by Andrew Richard Hara/Ena Media Hawaii/Getty Images)
HAWAII, USA - MAY 17: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'USGS / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ash plume rises following a massive volcano eruption on Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, United States on May 17, 2018. Lava is spewing more than 60 metres into the air and spread around 36,000 square metres. (Photo by USGS / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HAWAII, USA - MAY 17: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'USGS / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ash plume rises from forest following a massive volcano eruption on Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, United States on May 17, 2018. Lava is spewing more than 60 metres into the air and spread around 36,000 square metres. (Photo by USGS / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
HAWAII, USA - MAY 17: (----EDITORIAL USE ONLY MANDATORY CREDIT - 'USGS / HANDOUT' - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS----) Ash plume rises following a massive volcano eruption on Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, United States on May 17, 2018. Lava is spewing more than 60 metres into the air and spread around 36,000 square metres. (Photo by USGS / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 15: Lava from active fissures illuminates volcanic gases from the Kilauea volcano amidst stars on Hawaii's Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano's Halemaumau crater 'has raised the potential for explosive eruptions' at the volcano. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
People watch as ash erupt from the Halemaumau crater near the community of Volcano during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 15, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
PAHOA, HI - MAY 15: Plants grow in cracks on a hardened lava flow from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The section of the hardened lava flow marks the point where lava stopped flowing towards the town in 2014, saving the town from destruction. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano's Halemaumau crater �as raised the potential for explosive eruptions�at the volcano. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
PAHOA, HI - MAY 6: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a lava flow moves on Makamae Street after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 6, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
Kilauea volcano's summit lava lake shows a significant drop of roughly 220 metres below the crater rim in this wide angle camera view showing the entire north portion of the Overlook crater in Hawaii, U.S. May 6, 2018. Picture taken on May 6, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: A plume of volcanic gas mixed with smoke from fires caused by lava rises (C) amidst clouds in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a fissure produces lava after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
A new fissure spraying lava fountains as high as about 230 feet (70 m), according to United States Geological Survey, is shown from Luana Street in Leilani Estates subdivision on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone in Hawaii, U.S., May 5, 2018. Photo taken May 5, 2018. US Geological Survey/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, ash sprews from the Puu Oo crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
A fissure on Leilani and Kaupili Streets in the Leilani Estates subdivision caused by an eruption of the Kilauea Volcano is shown following a series of earthquakes, in Hawaii, U.S. on May 4, 2018. Picture taken on May 4, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a fissure forms on the west flank of the Puu Oo crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a fissure produces lava after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, ash sprews from the Puu Oo crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
A fissure on Leilani and Kaupili Streets in the Leilani Estates subdivision caused by an eruption of the Kilauea Volcano is shown following a series of earthquakes, in Hawaii, U.S. on May 4, 2018. Picture taken on May 4, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY
Lava advances along a street near a fissure in Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, Hawaii, the U.S., May 5, 2018. U.S. Geological Survey/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Signs hang in the entrance of an evacuation center in Pahoa available to residents of the Puna communities of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, home to about 1,700 people, who were forced to leave their homes after the Kilauea Volcano, one of five on the island, erupted on Thursday after a series of earthquakes over the last couple of days, in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
PAHOA, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a fissure about 150m long produces lava after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK, HI - MAY 3: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, ash sprews from the Puu Oo crater on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 3, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
A dog waits for its owner to return at a pet-friendly evacuation center in Pahoa available to residents of the Puna communities of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens who were forced to leave their homes after the Kilauea Volcano erupted on Thursday after a series of earthquakes over the last couple of days, in Hawaii, U.S., May 4, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Steam cracks are shown before a fissure opened on Kaupili Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision caused by an eruption of the Kilauea Volcano is shown following a series of earthquakes, in Hawaii, U.S. on May 4, 2018. Picture taken on May 4, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
Lava advances along a street near a fissure in Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, Hawaii, the U.S., May 5, 2018. U.S. Geological Survey/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
A fissure on Leilani and Kaupili Streets in the Leilani Estates subdivision caused by an eruption of the Kilauea Volcano is shown following a series of earthquakes, in Hawaii, U.S. on May 4, 2018. Picture taken on May 4, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY
A crack opens up on Pohoiki Road, Lava near Leilani Estates, on Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift Zone, Hawaii, the U.S., May 5, 2018. U.S. Geological Survey/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
An HVO geologist collects samples of spatter by fissure 10 from the Kilauea volcano, in the Leilani Estates in Hawaii, U.S. May 6, 2018. Picture taken on May 6, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
USGS scientists monitor Kilauea volcano's eruption spatter on the roads in the Leilani Estates in Hawaii, U.S. May 6, 2018. Picture taken on May 6, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.
PAHOA, HI - MAY 06: A structure burns as lava from volcanic fissures slowly advances in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. A magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck the island May 4. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur gas into communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Gases rise from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts from a fissure on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Smoke and lava erupt from a fissure near a home on the outskirts of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 14, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Cracks are visible along a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A crack is seen in a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Volcanic gases rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A bouquet and a lei rest on a lava flow in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
A driver steers through volcanic gasses in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Bystanders watch lava erupt from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano, U.S., May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester
Lava flows downhill, in this image from a helicopter overflight of Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift zone, during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. Picture taken May 19, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A 17th lava fissure erupts hundreds of feet in the air during a volcano outbreak in Pahoa, Hawaii, U.S., May 19, 2018. Picture taken May 19, 2018. Courtesy John Linzmeier/U.S. Air National Guard/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Lava flows into the Pacific Ocean southeast of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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The tourists, residents and journalists around me seemed awestruck.

Constantin Plinke, a visiting German exchange student, told me, “We had a big list of things to do and maybe 80 percent of them were in the national park. It’s sad.”

Then, noting the rarity of the event, he added, “You may never see something like this in your life again.”

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester Writing and editing by Toni Reinhold)

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