HONOLULU (CBS News) —erupted from its summit before dawn Thursday, shooting a dusty plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky.
The explosion came after two weeks of volcanic activity and the opening of more than a dozen fissures east of the crater that spewed lava into neighborhoods, said Mike Poland, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.READ MORE: 'Supercharge' Storm Bringing Heavy Rainfall To Southland
The lava has destroyed at least 26 homes and 10 other structures.
The crater sits within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed since May 11 in preparation for an eruption.
Officials have said they didn’t expect the explosion to be deadly as long as people remained out of the closed national park.Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes. An eruption in 1924 killed one person and sent rocks, ash and dust into the air for 17 days.
Scientists warned on May 9 that a drop in the lava lake at the summit might create conditions for an explosion that could fling ash and boulders the size of refrigerators into the air.READ MORE: CHP, Caltrans Urge Drivers To Slow Down, Use Their Headlights With Windshield Wipers As Rain Heads For SoCal
Scientists predicted it would mostly release trapped steam from flash-heated groundwater released as though it was a kitchen pressure cooker.
Communities a mile or two away may be showered by pea-size fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash, they said.
Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983.
It’s one of five volcanoes that comprise the Big Island of Hawaii, and the only one currently erupting.MORE NEWS: Alisal Fire Burn Area Residents In Santa Barbara County Ordered To Evacuate As Storm Arrives
This is a developing story and will be updated.