Lava teases lone remaining homeowner in Royal Gardens

Published: Dec. 6, 2011 at 11:14 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2011 at 5:36 PM HST
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By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

KALAPANA (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lava continues to tease the only remaining house in the Royal Gardens Subdivision on the Big Island. The latest flow crept by to the east over the weekend.

Professional photographer Bryan Lowry took dramatic shots of lava marching through Kalapana. Over the past few days, the molten rock has been toying with Jack Thompson, whose house is the only one left standing in the subdivision.

"After 30 years, you know, it's not scary anymore," Thompson said. "It's just entertainment."

Eyebrows were raised when a chopper was seen lifting Thompson off his property Sunday. He says it wasn't an evacuation. He had a dentist appointment.

When he has errands to run, he'll often hitch a ride with a tour helicopter if it has an open seat.

"I can't stay up there 100-percent of the time...I have to re-supply the ice box," Thompson said. "I've walked on plenty of hot lava, but not when it's still moving."

This time, the lava went by Thompson's home to the east.

Lowry has spent years capturing Madame Pele's movements on film and video. He says when he visited the area November 11th, the lava was making its natural progression at the 2,000-foot elevation.

But when he went back five days ago...

"It was down to the 1,200-foot elevation and the next place the lava was going to hit was basically a gully between the previous flows to the east and the old kipukas to the west, which are above Jack's," Lowry said.

Thompson says the current flow is about 500 yards from his home.

"It was like being in a war zone there a couple of nights," he said. "You could just about read a book from the glow."

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