Lava Claims Three Abandoned Houses in Hawaii Subdivision

Lava from Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, destroyed three abandoned houses this week in a nearly deserted neighborhood, scientists on the Big Island reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said a lava flow entered the Royal Gardens subdivision on Sunday, and two structures were burned by Tuesday. A third house in the area residents fled years ago had fallen victim to the volcano by Thursday, scientists said.

Sixty-six homes and other structures in the subdivision have been destroyed by the volcano that began slowly erupting Jan. 3, 1983.

About five houses are still standing, but only two homeowners remain in Royal Gardens. The homeowners, Jack Thompson and Dean Schneider, say they are in no danger.

"It's the safest place I've ever lived, safer than the mainland. They have forest fires over there that burn up 3,000 homes in Southern California," said Thompson, who runs a bed and breakfast called the Lava House. "I'm here for the duration, whatever happens."

Schneider admitted it was "a little different" living with lava from an erupting volcano.

"It's unique, but it's very easy to outrun a lava flow," he said.