Fiery lava pouring out of the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has destroyed 21 homes so far.
Nearly 2,000 people in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puma were forced to flee the molten rock and poisonous gasses creeping toward residents' homes.
At least nine fissures have opened along the ground. Some people were briefly allowed back into their homes to retrieve pets and essential documents. Authorities said it could be as long as several months before many evacuees will be allowed to return home permanently.
Some people have chosen to stay behind. But officials are highly recommending people leave because of the dangerous and evil-smelling sulfur dioxide gasses and burning asphalt.
Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken the Big Island since Friday's 6.9 magnitude earthquake that accompanied the volcanic activity.
Gov. David Ige activated Hawaii's National Guard and urged residents to heed official warnings. Ige also signed an emergency order releasing disaster funds to the Big Island.
Hawaii's Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was mobilizing resources and monitoring for fire outbreaks, water shortages and power outages.
The Kilauea volcano has been erupting off and on since 1983 and is one of the world's most active volcanoes. The current eruption is the worst in four years.