The last time we visited the island state of Hawaii, the state was dealing with the aftermath of a fake ballistic missile warning issued by one of its emergency management employees.

Now, there is a real one.

Sizeable earthquakes have hit Hawaii’s Big Island, likely triggered by the eruption of the state’s Kilauea volcano . The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the island, which was proceeded by a 5.4-magnitude shaker.

The 5.4-magnitude quake was felt across the Big Island from Hilo to Kona and as far away as Oahu. It added to an already busy day for the Big Island, which is grappling with five separate eruptions from two fissures on the volcano, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV reports.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the second quake wasn’t strong enough to cause a tsunami, and Hawaii’s Department of Transportation said no damage had been reported to roads.

The earthquakes are the result of the movement of magma through the volcano’s chambers. This particular eruption cycle began Thursday, when there were a series of smaller earthquakes and a crack opened up, filling with lava that flowed onto the neighboring forest.

The activity continued Friday, with reports of lava spurting from volcanic vents on two streets. Areas downhill from the vents were at risk of being covered up.

The community of Leilani Estates near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island appeared to be in the greatest danger. Authorities also ordered an evacuation of Lanipuna Gardens, a smaller, more rural subdivision directly to the east. But scientists said new vents could form, and it was impossible to know where.

Civil defense officials cautioned the public about high levels of sulfur dioxide near the volcano and urged vulnerable people to leave immediately. Exposure to the gas can cause irritation or burns, sore throats, runny noses, burning eyes and coughing.

The eruption has now forced the mandatory evacuation of the eastern side of the Big Island.  The activity has also opened up six new fissures in the region, closing Hawaii Volcanoes National Park until further notice. More outbreaks of lava are expected.

“These cracks are part of the reason why we decided to close. You don’t normally see cracks around here near the Jaggar Museum where we are right now. These are a result of that increased seismic activity that you saw today,” [Jessica Ferracane, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park public affairs specialist] said. “As that magma source is moving into the East Rift Zone, that’s leaving the southwest part of the crater to settle into that… so these cracks have opened up that you saw earlier. There’s no telling if there’s lava or magma in them, but they’re just a settling reaction to that movement out into the northeast.”

Kīlauea has been erupting nearly continuously since 1983, with considerable property damage associated with some of the lava flows. The geologic feature is the result of the island being on a “hot spot”, which is a thermal plume shooting up from the Earth’s depths. The Big Island is not in any danger of a Mt. St. Helen’s style eruption, as the Kilauea’s lavas are made of a more metal-rich, basaltic lava and tend to flow instead of explode.

However, 2 homes have already been destroyed by the lava flows.

Harry Kim, the mayor of Hawaii County, confirmed the destroyed homes this morning.

“It is more than just a loss of a home,” Kim said at a news conference today.

At least 1,800 people were ordered to evacuate the area near the volcano. Kim said today that all eruptions so far have been concentrated in the southern area.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said in a statement he’s activated the state’s National Guard “to provide support to county emergency response personnel to help with evacuations and security.” He’s also signed an emergency proclamation to help provide state money for “quick and efficient relief.”

Some reports from social media:

Our thoughts and prayers are going out to the people of the Big Island.


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