Kilauea's show began 30 years ago

214 structures burned since Pele's wrath began

Published  5:02 PM HST Jan 03, 2013

Thirty years ago Thursday, Kilauea began erupting and hasn't stopped since.

Kilauea's volcanic roar began on Jan. 3, 1983.  Scientists viewed it as an event that would last days or weeks, at most.

How wrong they were.

Kilauea kept going, wiping out eight homes in the Royal Gardens subdivision two months later.

This was only the beginning.

A year later, Mauna Loa joined in the eruption -- a spectacular sight that hadn't been seen since 1868.

Residents in the Kapa'ahu Homestead were forced to evacuate in 1986 when Kilauea's lava flow switched course.

Former Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim was head of the Hawaii County Civil Defense at the time.

Royal Gardens residents were left stranded when lava oozed over Kalapana Highway.

PHOTOS: Fiery October at Kilauea Volcano
1 of 17

Incandescent lines mark the boundaries between migrating crustal plates on the surface of the lava lake in Halema?uma?u crater. Here, and at other lava lakes across the world, these rifting zones have a characteristic zigzag pattern. 10/22/12.


1990 -- Beloved Kalapana.  An old Hawaiian village torn apart by Madame Pele's wrath.

The community worked together to move to the Kalapana store and drive-in and quickly relocate their church and Damien statue.

Kim recalled the impact.  He says it was sudden and so personal.

"Their land was inherited.  A lot of them.  I remember sitting aside family graves, small community graves and they're saying their last goodbyes," said Kim.

Through the years, millions of dollars in damage continue to accumulate.  In total, 214 structures have been swallowed since the eruption started.

March 2011 -- Kamoamoa fissure opened.  On some days, scientists say as much as 2.5 million cubic meters of lava spewed out.

A year later, Jack Thompson's home fell victim to Kilauea's flow.  He was forced to evacuate his 30-year-old home -- the last one standing at Royal Gardens.

"They accepted Pele's ways.  Pele give and Pele take back and Pele create," said Kim.

The fiery goddess has created 500 new acres on the Big Island.  Scientists have since reversed their way of thinking and now there's no reason to believe it won't last another 30 years.

Do you want to print this page now?