Hawaii lava flow claims first house as it reaches town

The 1,000C lava had been creeping from Kilauea volcano towards Pahoa for months

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A house has been destroyed by a lava flow approaching a town in Hawaii after it claimed part of a cemetery.

The molten rock, from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island, burned the home down in less than an hour.

It had been creeping towards Pahoa for months and hit the house shortly before noon on Monday.

The family who lived there were allow to watch it burn from a safe distance for "closure" and to document the destruction for insurance, a local official, Darryl Oliveira, said.

It burst into flames after a finger of lava broke off from the main flow, which had been approaching the main road through the village.

Footage showed the crackling, black carpet setting light to the wood-panelled home, which was engulfed in flames and thick black smoke before it collapsed.

Its owners had already been evacuated and residents from 50 homes in the lava’s projected path have been packing up belongings and preparing to flee in case they are next.

The lava started oozing from the volcano in June and has since cut a charred path stretching almost 14 miles through the Hawaiian countryside, burning a storage shed, cattle shelter, part of a cemetery and countless trees and bushes.

Firefighters are instructed to let structures burn after evacuations and only intervene if the flames spread or start wildfires.

The leading edge of the lava can reach temperatures of 1,150C and previous flows from Kilauea destroyed more than 180 homes between 1983 and 1990.

Monday was the first time a home had been lost to the volcano since 2012.

Additional reporting by agencies