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Lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could leave thousands trapped

HAWAII (CBSNews) -- The situation around Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is growing more serious by the hour. Another crack opened up in the earth Monday, sending more lava to the surface and threatening more homes.

Kilauea's latest and ever more aggressive eruptions are both mesmerizing and concerning to Hawaii emergency officials.

Since the explosive series of eruptions began early this month, more than three dozen homes have been destroyed. Even as the lava flows harden, new fissures keep emerging, some 1,000-feet long.

The lava keeps inching towards a main highway in lower Puna, potentially trapping 2,000 residents who soon could be forced to flee, joining the 1,800 already evacuated and now in shelters.

Hawaiians like Maile Orian Collins say they accept the danger.

"We live here because we love it and we know that part of life is that we live on an active volcano," said Collins.

For now, hundreds of homes that are still standing remain inaccessible.

The threat of toxic sulphur dioxide gas remains real, so people are being told to wear respirators. But those are hard to find on the island right now.

"My biggest concern is people putting on masks that don't fit them properly. They will have a false sense of security and if they get hit with a plume, it could be overwhelming," said James Decker, former chief staff officer at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The threat didn't stop Demian Barrios, who put himself in harm's way to livestream as fiery lava debris mixed with toxic gas spewed all around.

Fissures are popping up almost daily. There's lava flowing toward the ocean from one of the newest fissure. If a large steam explosion happens at the core of the volcano, it will send boulders the size of cows flying into the air. People don't live nearby, but the real concern is the resulting ash cloud, which could travel tens of miles.People don't live there, its the ash cloud that could travel tens of miles -- that is the real concern. 


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