Kilauea's volcano is now spewing the hottest and fastest-moving lava yet as Hawaii officials on the Big Island were forced to issue new evacuation orders in two coastal neighborhoods over fears that the rapidly advancing flows might trap residents.
The lava has been moving fast enough to cover approximately six football fields an hour, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Wendy Stovall.
WATCH: Video captures a stunning lava show in Puna, Hawaii— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 31, 2018
(Video by Chris Carroll) pic.twitter.com/aV9YjXkxBJ
"Hawaii County Civil Defense decided to evacuate all of lower Puna to ensure that people would be able to get out," Stovall said.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said on late Tuesday that anyone who failed to evacuate would be on their own. As of Wednesday, 71 homes had been destroyed, a number officials expect to rise, along with 400 utility poles.
Meanwhile, dramatic drone footage shows the moment that an emergency flight crew evacuated a man from his Leilani Estates home, right before it was overcome by fast moving lava. Police say he fired a gun and assaulted another man after demanding that the man and his friends evacuate the area Tuesday.
Approximately two dozen recent fissures in the area have resulted in ominous lava fountains spewing the hottest and most fluid magma to date up to 200 feet in the air.
"This is the hottest lava that we've seen in this eruption, even just a matter of 50 degrees centigrade makes a big difference in how quickly lava flows can move and how they behave once the magma exits the vent," Stovall said.
"It can't get hotter than where we are," Stovall added. "We are pretty much tapping mantle temperatures right now."
Hawaii County officials say that lava has destroyed electrical equipment on the highway, knocking out power to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.
"It took the road," Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno told Hawaii News Now. "We lost 132 and there's no power down to that area and, as explained to me, it's gonna be an extended outage."
"You are at risk of being isolated due to possible lava inundation," the Hawaii County Civil Defense agency advised the public.
Several small earthquakes also shook Kilauea's summit Wednesday, as the volcano's vent inside the Halemaumau Crater has increased in size while experiencing a series of explosive eruptions sending rock and ash thousands of feet into the sky.
DGGS geologist Katie Mulliken collects a sample of fresh lava erupting from fissure 20 in Hawai’i’s East Rift Zone. Geochemical analyses of fresh lava samples provide clues to lava storage and transport through Kīlauea volcano. pic.twitter.com/XDfBEWyFcy— Alaska DGGS (@akdggs) May 30, 2018
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will remain closed, and that dangerous glass particles accumulating on the ground in Leilani Estates pose a health risk.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed because of the volcanic activity at the summit and the ongoing eruptions on Kilauea's eastern flanks. Park officials said that crews are working on clearing another roadway on the south side of the park that was covered by lava from previous eruptions. They hope the roadway will provide an alternative escape route if lava cuts off more roads to the north.
Strands of volcanic glass called as Pele's hair was accumulating on the ground in Leilani Estates and surrounding neighborhoods, and winds may blow lighter particles farther away, scientists said. The strands can cause irritation and respiratory problems when it comes in contact with people. -Bloomberg
Wind has been spreading clouds of volcanic gas emissions - or vog (volcanic smog) over the Big Island.
We wonder how many lives this little kitty has gone through over the past couple of weeks?
Just before I evacuated lower Puna last night I found one last abandoned house with a view of the advancing lava. To my surprise a cat was there. Follow this and other stories on my Instagram and facebook. #kilauea #hawaii https://t.co/n9imZyoOVc pic.twitter.com/vARQ8eZ2iY— Joseph Anthony (@joeair17) May 31, 2018