(WPRI) — Last week a volcanic eruption from the active Esperanza fissure sent lava flowing into a residential neighborhood on La Palma, Puerto Rico, and authorities worry that a small group of people may not have enough time to escape.
Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said more than 130 homes have been destroyed from the eruption, located off the southwestern tip of the island in Puerto Rico, since it began last week. And more lava is spreading across land and threatening to destroy more homes.
Paul Carrillo, a representative for FEMA, said officials have shut down an area about a mile away from the fissure, where residents were evacuated in the early hours of Tuesday. He said more properties along the coast are expected to go up in flames.
The lava has reached as high as 400 feet, and many residents have no choice but to consider leaving. For now, they are prepared to wait out the eruption.
“You do not know how long it’s going to last,” Eli Lopez told Eyewitness News on Friday. “I just want to be able to leave. I cannot think of leaving my children.”
On Sunday morning, the lava reached three houses along Rivas Road, less than one mile from the fissure.
Carrillo said there are plans to bring in resources to Puerto Rico.
“We have a disaster response center open and we also have members of our Civilian Security Corps, FEMA civilian staff, available to assist. We are coordinating with them to find a specific place for each to find where they can get the proper support to rebuild their lives,” he said.
Officials from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the U.S. Coast Guard have also been monitoring the situation from inside the controlled flow. The groups have confirmed that there is no danger to anyone on the mainland.