Toxic gases rise from cracks in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. Kilauea has destroyed more than 35 structures since it began releasing lava from vents about 40 kilometers east of the summit crater. (Photo: Jae C. Hong)
The lava hisses, crackles and sizzles.
It roars like an engine, the sheer force causing an audible whoosh as it sloshes and bubbles.
It shoots into the sky, bright orange and full of danger, or oozes along the pavement, a giant bubbling blob of black marshmallow-looking mess, crushing homes and making roads impassable.
For the past week, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has spewed lava into the air, destroyed homes, forced residents into shelters and agitated an otherwise cheerful, small community where everyone is a neighbour.
Kilauea has long towered over this corner of the Big Island as a source of pride, awe and inspiration, but also fear.
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Now, the air smells like rotten eggs or a recently extinguished match. Near a fissure where lava comes up from the ground, the toxic gasses burn your nose, throat and lungs.
Although you can't really see them, it's the gasses that could hurt, or even kill you. Maybe that's why some residents want to stick it out and not evacuate, feeling the danger is exaggerated.
Toxic gases rise from cracks in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. Kilauea has destroyed more than 35 structures since it began releasing lava from vents about 40 kilometers east of the summit crater. (Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
If magma — the lava underground — comes in contact with ground water, it makes a high-pitched noise that sounds like a jet engine.
During the day, residents are a common sight in the evacuation zone, trying to check on the status of their homes as officials escort them back to pick up their belongings or feed animals.PICS: Scientists predict Hawaii volcano may have explosive eruption
Not so at night: The streets are eerily quiet, and it is total darkness, the few streetlights knocked out by the lava.
From the darkness comes the sound of the Big Island wildlife: high-pitched frogs shrieking into the blackness, songbirds chirping a familiar tune, unfazed by the danger that has upended the lives and fortunes of the people around them.
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