"We don't have an estimate yet, but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland last night", said Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii County.
A slow-moving flood of lava destroyed hundreds of homes in the southeast area of Big Island, turning what had been a scenic bay dotted with beach homes, lush greens and turquoise waters, into a dark slab of steam and lava.
No injuries were reported as most residents heeded the advice to leave. Okabe described the area as a mix of vacation rentals and year-round residences.
PAHOA, Hawaii-A river of lava spewing from the foot of Hawaii's KilaueaVolcano swallowed about three dozen more homes on the Big Island during a weekend of destruction that brought to almost 120 the number of dwellings devoured since last month, officials said on Monday.
A civil defense official told Reuters on Tuesday at least 60 to 80 more homes were believed to have been devoured as the lava flow, measuring about half a mile wide and 10 to 15 feet tall, inundated the adjacent subdivisions of Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland.
"It's a necessary evil".
Lava flows have knocked out telephone and power lines, causing widespread communication outages, and forced the shutdown of a geothermal energy plant that normally provides about a quarter of the island's electricity.
"God only knows what it's going to do next", Johnson said. But it's unclear how long it would take to re-open access to the area, he said.
Thousands in the Puna area had to evacuate after lava fissures started opening in neighbourhoods a month ago. It was initially thought lost to lava, but county officials later said it had been spared.
The two communities, comprising a quiet vacation spot once popular for its snorkeling and tide pools, sat at the edge of a small, shallow inlet called Kapoho Bay. She said it would be some time before precise losses were confirmed.