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12:37 PM 05/04/2018

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Hawaiis Kilauea began erupting on Thursday, and the flow of molten lava into the nearby Leilani Estates has forced nearly 1,500 people to flee their homes.

A series of hundreds of small earthquakes that rocked Hawaiis Big Island for several days prior served as a warning to locals and officials that an eruption might be coming.

Hundreds of small earthquakes in Hawaii are shaking the eastern side of Big Island, prompting concerns that Kilauea Volcano could erupt https://t.co/jMp4RNkAuspic.twitter.com/MPZwzP1EOB

— CNN (@CNN) May 4, 2018

Sure enough, the lava began flowing late Thursday — but as it flowed over roads and toward residential areas, Governor David Ige told local news station KHON-TV that he had activated the National Guard to assist as residents began to evacuate the area.

“We definitely have sufficient numbers in the National Guard. We have some members who actually live on the Big Island and we did activate them. Theyre in the emergency operation center as we speak.”

Jeremiah Osuna, who captured drone footage of the lava as it crept closer and closer to peoples homes, described the terrifying scene to KHON-TV. “It sounded like if you were to put a bunch of rocks into a dryer and turn it on as high as you could. You could just smell sulfur and burning trees and underbrush and stuff. I couldnt believe it. I was kind of shaken a little bit and realizing how real everything is, and how dangerous living on the East Rift can be.”

Drone video from above the lava outbreak in Leilani Estates on Hawaii Island shows roads, homes near the path of destruction. MORE: https://t.co/ji6WuCmylOpic.twitter.com/q41ZyD8hix

— Hawaii News Now (@HawaiiNewsNow) May 4, 2018

Authorities dont know yet how long residents will be away from their homes — or whether more may need to be evacuated. Talmadge Magno of Big Islands Civil Defense explained, “The best thing they can do right now is stay out of the area. Its not a stable situation at all. This is not over, it could escalate at any time.”

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