KALAPANA, Hawaii — Kilauea crater continued to spew lava today, and a stream of glowing, molten rock threatened half a dozen houses after a flow earlier destroyed nine others, while a side lava flow neared the ocean.
Lava from the volcano, which was spilling down the slopes of Hawaii Island in three distinct flows, destroyed seven homes Wednesday night. The lava crossed the two-lane Kalapana Highway in at least one place, setting the asphalt on fire. Two houses were obliterated Thursday.
The six homes threatened today were near the main flow and an eastern branch flow, officials said.
A flow to the west of the main one reached the Queen's Bath area, a freshwater natural pool in an uninhabited area near the ocean, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Harry Kim said.
Scientists said the inexorable flow of 2,000-degree molten rock, moving at a rate of roughly 10 yards an hour, could reach the sea today, the first time in 13 years that lava from Kilauea has made it to the ocean.
"But there's really no way of knowing where it will go," said Will Tanigawa, a scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.
Hawaiian legend has it that when lava makes its sizzling meeting with the sea, the eruption will end.