Lava threat to Kalapana Gardens subdivision on Big Island

Reported by: Marisa Yamane
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Updated: 7/26/2010 9:21 pm

The threat of lava is a fact of life for folks living in the Kalapana Gardens subdivision on the Big Island.

While Civil Defense officials say there are no homes under immediate threat right now - that wasn't the case this weekend.

Thick and slow moving, the lava from Kilauea Volcano made its way towards the house owned by Gary Sleik, taking out everything in its path.

It's the moment Sleik had been preparing for.

"The homeowner has been aware of the risks for some time and we've been in communication with him for the last two years," said Quince Mento with Big Island Civil Defense.

Sleik knew of the dangers when he built his house in the Kalapana Gardens Subdivision almost five years ago.

"At one time there was a lot of homes there, it was covered by flows back in the late '80s, '90s and the few hearty souls have tried to rebuild or bought new and have built their dwellings upon it," said Mento.

Around 3:30 a.m. Sunday, Sleik's house proved to be no match for Hawaiian fire goddess Pele.

Flames engulfed the home where Sleik lived with his two dogs.

"I think all that's left of it is the roofing material," said Mento.

Approximately 35 homes and 70 people remain in the Kalapana Gardens Subdivision.

"I really empathize, it must be nerve-wrecking for them because one, you can't predict what's going to happen on a day-to-day basis, and so if you live there and your house is under potential threat I really feel for them," said Mento.

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