Hawaii County Civil Defence issued an emergency cellphone alert after the fissure was discovered early Sunday morning.
The agency said one “unidentified structure” was destroyed by the new vent, bringing the total number of homes and other buildings lost to lava to nearly 40.
Residents living near the fissure were told to evacuate, and two nearby community centres were serving as shelters for people and pets.
Lava spread across hundreds of metres of private land and loud explosions rocked the neighbourhood not far from the Leilani Estates subdivision, where more than a dozen other active vents opened over the past week.
Nearby resident Richard Schott, 34, watched from a police checkpoint as the eruption churned just over a ridge line and behind some trees.
“I’ve actually seen rocks fly over the tree line and I can feel it in my body,” Schott said. “It’s like a nuclear reaction or something.”
The new opening still showed signs of activity Sunday afternoon and was about 300 meters long, officials said.
New fissures, ground deformation and abundant volcanic gases indicate eruptions on the eastern flank of Kilauea are likely to continue, the US Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. - PNC