1 year ago, a catastrophic collapse at Puu Oo crater changed everything

1 year ago, a catastrophic collapse of Puu Oo crater changed everything for lower Puna residents

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Leilani Estates eruption that began on April 30, 2018 with the catastrophic collapse of the Puu Oo crater floor and lava lake, ending a 35-year long Kilauea eruption and setting into motion a new one.

The shallow magma beneath the cone drained back into the rift zone system and then immediately down rift toward the lower East Rift Zone.

On May 3, lava burst through the surface as the first fissure erupted on Mohala Street in Leilani Estates. Over the course of several months, 23 other fissures developed, ultimately claiming more than 700 homes and displacing more than 2,000 residents as lava inundated more than 13 square miles of Puna.

The only home Heath Dalton’s kids had ever known was their house off Kupono Street in Leilani Estates. They now refer to it as the “hot lava house” and often ask their dad to bring them to the property so they can walk around the lot.

Dalton says it no longer bothers him to see the charred remains of his house — likely burnt to the ground by lava bombs released from fissure 9, which tore through his property.

“It was still kind of a punch in the gut when I saw it, but now I’ve seen it so many times it doesn’t phase me at all. But the very first time, it was a shocker,” Dalton said.

Temperature readings indicate it’s still at least 200 degrees Fahrenheit under the surface, though there is no detectable sulfur dioxide release.

Dalton says they’ll never be able to rebuild on this lot in his lifetime, but life is already returning to the area in the form of ferns, flowers and other plants and trees.

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