Mount Kilauea volcano has erupted near a residential area on Hawaii's largest island, prompting a local state of emergency and the mandatory evacuation of 1,700 residents.
Authorities said steam and lava poured out of a crack in Leilani Estates near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island.
Resident Jeremiah Osuna captured drone footage of the lava burning through the trees, a scene he described as a "curtain of fire."
Lava fountains were shooting 150 feet (46 meters) in the air, and molten lava spread out over an area about 200 yards (183 meters) wide behind one house in Leilani Estates, Big Island resident Ikaika Marzo told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
"It sounds like a jet engine. It's going hard," he said.
Officials said there is no way to predict how long the eruption will continue. Asta Miklius, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory, told the Associated Press that there is quite a bit of magma in the volcano's system.
"It won't be just an hours-long eruption probably, but how long it will last will depend on whether the summit magma reservoir gets involved," she said.
County, state and federal officials had been warning residents all week that they should be prepared to evacuate, as an eruption would give little warning.
The US Geological Survey said new ground cracks were reported Thursday afternoon. Hot vapor emerged from a crack and spattering lava began to erupt.
Scientists said areas downslope of the erupting vent were at risk of being covered by lava. Leilani Estates appeared to be at greatest risk, but scientists said new vents and outbreaks could occur and it's not possible to say where.
The eruption comes after days of earthquakes rattled the area's Puna district.
Most of Kilauea's activity has been nonexplosive, but a 1924 eruption spewed ash and 10-ton rocks into the sky, leaving one man dead.