Kilauea volcano erupts in Hawaii, residents asked to stay indoors

Wilson Wong and Rima Abdelkader

Hawaii residents on the Big Island were asked to stay indoors after the Kilauea volcano erupted Sunday evening in an explosion that sent a plume of ash into the sky.

The explosion came at the Halemaumau Crater after a series of weak earthquakes, the U.S. Geological Survey said. A 4.4 magnitude earthquake followed shortly after the eruption, the agency said.

The agency added that significant damage to buildings or structures was not expected.

Heath Dalton said he and his friend drove up to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the eruption firsthand from a distance.

“Initially it was bright red, orange from the reflection of the lava on the steam,” Dalton, 48, told NBC News from Ka Wahi Gardens. He said water evaporating from a lake nearby also caused “a giant reflective screen.”

As of Tuesday morning, the USGS said all lava at the crater was contained, and no injuries or deaths have been reported.

The National Weather Service in Hawaii issued an advisory warning asking residents to stay indoors to avoid potential ash exposure. The eruption was easing with just a “low-level steam cloud lingering” around the crater, according to the agency.

“And as the night went on and the steam evaporated and the glow became less and less, because it didn’t have the reflective surface, but it was very reminiscent of being inside Leilani when it was reflecting off of the gas clouds and everything,” Dalton explained.

Dalton said he and his family lost their home in Leilani Estates in the 2018 eruption of the Kilauea volcano, an explosion that destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee.