Molten lava from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii was just 70 yards away from the nearest home in Pahoa town on late Monday, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. It could destroy the first home of the town any minute now. The lava front was moving northeast at 10-15 yards an hour. Many residents in the town have fled.

Hawaii Lava Approaches Pahoa Homes; Residents Flee

Looters breaking into the abandoned houses

An elementary school in the path of the lava flow will shut down indefinitely starting Wednesday. Other schools in the area are also planning to close. According to Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira, as many as 60 houses were at the risk of being ruined by lava. Meanwhile, a resident told CNN that some looters broke into the abandoned houses and businesses

The Kilauea volcano has been erupting lava since 1983. The current lava flow creeping toward inhabited areas of Pahoa began on June 27. Scientists first warned Pahoa residents about the lava on August 22. The flow came to a standstill late last month, but resumed crawling a few weeks ago. The flow front moved 275 yards from Sunday morning to Monday morning. On Saturday, authorities went door-to-door, asking residents to be prepared for evacuation.

Hawaii officials permit residents to watch the destruction of their homes

On Sunday, lava engulfed a Buddhist cemetery. Pahoa residents have been placed on alert for evacuation. The County of Hawaii has also issued smoke advisories for downwind areas. The decomposition of vegetation produces methane gas, which could ignite. The Red Cross Hawaii has opened a shelter for evacuees with nowhere to go.

The possible destruction of Pahoa could cause trouble for nearby towns that depend on Pahoa for gas, groceries and medical services. Oliveira said officials will make arrangements for residents in the path of the lava flow to watch the destruction of their homes. You can imagine the kind of despair and frustration they are going through. Pahoa, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, has about 1,000 residents.