Margaret and John Byrd and their family lost their rented home in Pahoa, Hawaii, to lava flow from Kilauea Volcano. The family is already building a new home, though it’s on land that was engulfed by lava years ago.
Mr. and Mrs. Byrd lived in the house with their family for 8 years. The large property enabled them to rear rabbits and other animals. Dianna Wilcox, their daughter, explained that while their old house was burning down, the foundation for the new one was being poured, which she felt was a very odd coincidence.
In September, when it appeared that there was a good chance lave from the volcano would engulf the house, the family decided it was time to move. The new property is a mere 10 miles from the original on land that was covered in lava, in Kalapana. At the moment, they are living in another house until the new construction is complete. It took three weeks to move because of the 80 animals they own, including chickens, cows, goats, sheep and rabbits. Dianna Wilcox lived in the same house as her parents, her sister, her daughter and her niece.
The Byrds and the rest of the family understand that they could lose another house by relocating to another part of the volcano but Wilcox stated that it was all about Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. She said that if Pele wants her land back, all you can do is move out of the way. She said she likes to refer to it as a paradise tax.
Many isolated and rural communities in the Big Island’s Puna district have been in the path of the creeping lava flow for months. However, it took a rivulet of molten rock a mere 45 minutes to completed burn down the house.
The forward edge had actually gone past the home but a section of the lava flow broke off uphill. It widened and eventually hit the house. Officials said that the forward edge of the lava seemed to be stuck for the moment approximately 480 feet from a street that goes through the downtown of Pahoa, namely Pahoa Village Road.
When the family found out the home was about to burn down, Dianna Wilcox tried to get back to witness it but the house had already collapsed by time she made it. She stated that many memories had gone up in flames.
Darryl Oliveira, the Hawaii County Civil Defense Director, said that there is a garage and barn close to the original home and they could burn soon as well, but that the closest neighbor was at a distance of about half a mile. He also stated that the house didn’t have insurance and was estimated to have been worth $200,000.
Wilcox said that it was a strange sort of honor to have lived in the first house to be destroyed by the creeping lava and said the family were very grateful for the well wishes and prayers on their behalf.