Cloud of ash from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano prompts "red alert"

Cloud of ash coming from Kilauea
Cloud of ash coming from Kilauea 01:55

PAHOA, Hawaii -- A massive cloud of ash and toxic steam from the erupting Kilauea volcano now has Hawaii's Big Island under a "red alert" for aviation. It's an official warning that air travel in the area could be dangerous.

A toxic cloud is billowing 12,000 feet up from the crater, spreading gray dust for miles. As jarring as it is spectacular, a towering ash cloud is just the latest Kilauea hazard. It was a surreal scene as golfers seem oblivious to the plume from a volcano capable of even more.

Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano Erupts Forcing Evacuations
People play golf as an ash plume rises in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Mario Tama / Getty Images

Scientists say this is not "the big one" they are predicting, but it is relieving some pressure on Kilauea. In the nearly two weeks since lava began pouring out, piercing through the ground in a two-mile long trail of fissures, there is no slowdown of the volcano's intensity.

Blue flames indicate the potential for explosive gases, adding to the danger brought on by the lava, which has turned dozens of homes in the lush Leilani Estates subdivision into rubble. Emergency officials say it's still too risky for most homeowners to return, but we found one Leilani resident who never left.

Scott Wiggers says he's been videotaping the destruction, documenting it for his neighbors for when they file insurance claims.

"It's hard to imagine but when I was here, all of that lava was not there," he explained. "It is just so devastating."