How 1 Hawaii Resident Is Documenting The Kilauea Volcano Eruption

May 13, 2018
Originally published on May 14, 2018 6:24 pm

In Hawaii, worry continues to grow after two new fissures opened up on Hawaii's Big Island Saturday. Scientists are warning about a possible volcanic eruption.

The events are spewing toxic gases and steam. Lava has swallowed up roads and homes and thousands living near Kilauea volcano have been evacuated.

But some residents, including Scott Wiggers, have remained behind. He spoke with NPR's Weekend Edition about what he's experiencing at his home on Leilani Estates, where more than two dozen homes have been destroyed by lava.

Wiggers lives on the far west side of the subdivision and often goes to the fissures within the neighborhood to document what's happening around him.

"I tried to make it to fissure 16 yesterday, but was unable to get through because of all the sulfuric acid," Wiggers says. "Over the past 24 hours, the earthquakes have started rumbling again."

Wiggers says that when he goes to check on the fissures he can see the sulfur deposits building up, where the lava rocks are starting to turn yellow, adding that "it's pretty amazing stuff."

But it's also hard not to notice when something is happening. Wiggers says the first fissure he experienced was on May 5.

"I woke up about 1 a.m. I heard a roar — and this is two miles away — a roar, like a jet engine," Wiggers says. "I go out and I look out the window and I see the sky glowing red."

Wiggers says that right before his eyes, the fissure opened up.

"[There was] a cinder cone being created, lava spewing in the air 100 feet," he says. "I was standing about 50 yards from that and I could feel the warmth. It was probably 90 degrees Fahrenheit."

After gathering some of his friends, Wiggers went down, closer to the lava to inspect the situation.

"Just the sound, the experience, the ground was shaking," Wiggers says, adding that it's hard to describe the full sensation.

Wiggers says he hasn't evacuated because he believes house is not in danger and that the air quality around him is OK.

During his documentation, Wiggers has posted many videos to YouTube explaining what's happening around him with footage of active fissures and cinder cones from previous eruptions.

Though others are worried, Wiggers believes he is safe where he is and has no intention of evacuating.

NPR's Denise Guerra and Martha Ann Overland produced and edited this story for broadcast. Wynne Davis adapted it for the Web.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

In Hawaii, worry grows after two new fissures opened up on the big island yesterday. Scientists are warning about a possible volcanic eruption. The vents are spewing toxic gases and steam. Lava has swallowed up roads and homes. Thousands living near Kilauea volcano have been evacuated. But one of those who has remained behind is Scott Wiggers. He lives on Leilani Estates. He lives just two miles from the nearest fissures. And he joins us now.

SCOTT WIGGERS: Morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So where are you, and what have you been seeing?

WIGGERS: I live on the far-west side of the subdivision. I don't go outside of the subdivision, so I tried to make it to fissure 16 yesterday but was unable to get through because of all the sulfuric acid. Over the past 24 hours, the earthquakes have started rumbling again. We just had a 4.6 or seven about an hour ago. As a matter of fact, when I go out and check on some of the fissures, you can start to see the sulfur deposits building up, where the lava rocks actually are starting to turn yellow. Pretty amazing stuff.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tell me about the air quality. Have you needed a respirator? I've been seeing reports of sort of respirators being sold out on the big island.

WIGGERS: For me personally, no. For those that live where the action has occurred - actually, you can't live there. Even with a respirator, there's just no way. And everyone has evacuated in that area.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: How worried are people? I mean, I imagine some have had to be forcibly evacuated. And it's scary - sounds scary.

WIGGERS: No one is forcibly evacuated. That's why I'm still here. They will to come and drag us out of our homes. However, they don't support what we're doing. And I'm talking to civil defense. They don't agree with what we're doing.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Let me just end by asking you - for those of us who've never been close to something like this, when you go and see these fissures, I mean, explain a little bit about what that feels like and what that looks like. I mean, is it very hot? I mean, what is it like?

WIGGERS: The first fissure I experienced was - I think it was May 5. I woke up about 1 a.m. I heard a roar. And this is two miles away - a roar like a jet engine. I go out and look out the window. And I see the sky glowing red. I'm seeing this fissure just right before my eyes open up, a cinder cone being created, the lava spewing in the air a hundred feet. Where I was standing - I was standing about 50 yards from that, and I could feel the warmth. It was probably 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I went down there again after I got some of my buddies out of bed, and we were standing a little closer. And just the sound, the experience - the ground was shaking. It's hard to describe.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was Scott Wiggers. Thank you very much, and stay safe.

WIGGERS: OK. Thanks, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tags: