US Geological Survey officials say the flow was still very active and there is no way of knowing when the eruption will end or whether more lava-spewing vents could open.
Hawaii county Mayor Harry Kim on Thursday said the homes were destroyed in three days at Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots in Pahoa, including the Mayor's own house in Vacationland, Xinhua news agency reported. The lava filled Kapoho Bay within two hours after the eruption began and formed a delta extending almost a mile from shore as it cools, according to the USGS.
Tensions have been running high over looting fears in Leilani Estates, where lava has been flowing since early May on Hawaii's Big Island. A plume of toxic volcanic lava haze, called laze, stretched for miles.
The law was put into place due to a lawsuit between the state and residents whose home was destroyed by lava from Kilauea's 1955 eruption.
More recently a huge river of lava that has crept several miles across the landscape to the eastern tip of the island engulfed two entire seaside housing subdivisions - Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland.
An astonishing 12,000 earthquakes have been recorded in Hawaii since the island nation's Kilauea volcano erupted in early May.
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Depending on climate, rainfall and other variables, new vegetation could start growing soon, but it would take much longer for the fertile land and lush rainforests to build back up. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii.
For example, one small ohia tree was observed by a National Park Service employee last week during a tour of a two-year-old inactive flow.
Scientists from the air and on the ground are trying to track existing ground cracks.
Many homeowners are unable to access their homes as the lava damaged the properties.
Authorities began evacuating the greater Kapoho area last week and ushered most of the last remaining residents to safety early on Saturday, hours before the lava flow severed all road access to the region.