Honolulu - A neighborhood called Vacation land on Hawaii's Big Island had disappeared by Wednesday as lava poured into two oceanfront subdivisions, smothering hundreds of homes and filling an ocean bay, turning it into new land that now juts into the sea.
Molten rock entirely covered Vacationland and only a few buildings remained in the nearby Kapoho subdivision, officials with the U.S. Geological Survey said.
"The bay is completely filled in and the shoreline is at least 0.8 miles out from its original location," said Geological Survey geologist Wendy Stovall. "Vacationland is gone, there is no evidence of any properties there at all. On the northern end of that, there are just a few homes in the (Kapoho) beach lots area."
County officials said the two subdivisions have 279 homes, and most are feared destroyed from the most recent lava flows in the low-laying area.
"Over the course of essentially two days, that entire area was covered by lava," Stovall said.
Molten rock from the erupting Kilauea volcano already has destroyed at least 117 homes in the Lanipuna Gardens and Leilani Estates neighborhoods where lava surfaced more than a month ago. The total number of homes destroyed in the eruption stands at about 600.
Scientists are still recording vigorous volcanic activity. While only one crack in the ground is spewing molten rock and the height of fountaining lava has decreased in recent days, "it's still really impossible to tell," when it will end, Stovall said.
The lava inundation is among the most destructive and costly in volcano property loss in U.S. history.
While no one has been killed and only one lava-related injury has been reported, the number of destroyed homes dwarfs other recent American eruptions.
In Hawaii, previous eruptions have destroyed small towns, but nothing on the scale of this outbreak. Lava flows destroyed homes and other buildings in the same area in 1955 and 1960, but the town of Kapoho was less densely populated at that time.
At Kilauea's summit, increased earthquake activity has led to explosive eruptions, some of which have shot rock and ash high into the air.