>> The lava flows, explosions of ash, and fissures ripping open roads in Hawaii, are the most visible impacts of a volcanic eruption. But residents of the big island on Thursday were warned of an unseen threat, toxic gas. Authorities sent text message alerts that changing winds would bring rising levels of sulfur dioxide gas, which can be fatal if a lot of it is inhaled.
And geologists warn Kilauea volcano may be entering a phase of explosive eruptions not seen in nearly a century. Blasts hurl ballistic blocks weighing to 12 tons for half a mile, shoot pebble size projectiles even further and cover parts of the island with volcanic ash and smog. Hawaii's governor warned that mass evacuations may be needed as more fissures open.
>> You lose perspective until you're actually on the ground and seeing the lava flows, and how it just erupted in the middle of the subdivision. The vents are still steaming and there's gas coming.>> Connie Drew is a resident of the Leilani Estates, the area in greatest danger with 15 volcanic fissures that have destroyed 36 structures and forced the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
>> We have friends that live down in Makamae and Liliuokalani Gardens and for them, it's been hour by hour.>> Authorities on Thursday also removed highly flammable chemicals from a nearby power plant in the path of lava. And local meteorologists said the change in winds could send Kilauea's volcanic smog, or vog, northwest to Maui and other islands in Hawaii.