Lava from a Hawaiian volcano that’s been erupting almost constantly since 1983 finally overran the last house standing in a neighborhood down the mountain last week – with the house’s owner reluctantly leaving his property about an hour before lava poured in the back door, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported.
Jack Thompson, 61, a former air-conditioning and refrigeration installer, had lived in the house for the past 30 years, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported. After the Kilauea volcano began erupting on Jan. 3, 1983, lava flows consumed his neighbors’ houses in the Royal Gardens subdivision, 4.4 miles southeast of the volcano’s Puu Oo crater. Lava also cut off the roads leading to the neighborhood.
According to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald:
In 2008, his last neighbor's home succumbed. Thompson began walking the 3 or 4 miles to Highway 130 over rough lava rock, hauling a backpack heavy with brown rice and beans.
Thompson didn’t mind living in an abandoned neighborhood, he told the Honolulu Star Advertiser. “You can probably count the number of people who have good neighbors on one hand,” he said. “After a while, it was mostly surfers and squatters out here. I paid good money for a piece of land that was supposed to have new homes on it, not a bunch of squatters in tents. I loved it when they all left. I enjoyed the solitude.”
On Friday afternoon, with a lava flow heading directly towards his house only 145 feet away, Thompson realized the end was nigh, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. He called two helicopters to carry him, a friend and his belongings to safety and started packing. The helicopters evacuated Thompson and his friend around 6 p.m., according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
"I got as much stuff out there as was practical and everything else, had to leave it. It (the lava) was pretty much coming in the back as we were going out the front," Thompson told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. By the next morning, his house had been burned to the ground.
"I've been preparing for this for years. You're hoping for the best, but in time expect the inevitable," Thompson told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. "It could have gone somewhere else just as easily, but this time I was in the way."
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