09/04/2014 10:36 am ET Updated Sep 04, 2014

As Hawaii Lava Flow Threatens Homes, One Family Tells How They've Been Spared 3 Times

It's been a rough month for Hawaii's Big Island. One month after Hurricane Iselle tore through the island's Puna district, there's now another force of nature threatening the area: a lava flow that has been slowly creeping toward homes through the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.

On Tuesday, the lava flow, which began erupting from a vent on Kilauea volcano on June 27, was only 1.2 miles away from the Kaohe Homestead. While officials maintained there was no immediate threat to the area, they did raise the volcano alert level from "Watch" to "Warning."

This isn't the first time residents living near Kilauea volcano -- one of the world's most active volcanoes -- have faced the threat of lava. In fact, resident Piilani Kaawaloa's home has come within feet of lava three times in 30 years, in 1986, 2006 and 2012, according to an exclusive report by Hawaii News Now.

While Kaawaloa's home isn't in danger this time around, during the 2006 flow, Harry Kim, then-Hawaii Island mayor and civil defense director, had to personally stop by the house three times to ask the family to evacuate, the outlet notes. But Kaawaloa's mother, Minnie, had a different plan.

"As soon as he left, my mom told us to come outside and go and lawn mow the yard, go in the house, clean the house, change the bedding,'" Kaawaloa explains in the video above. "We were kind of puzzled."

The family eventually did evacuate, but not before saying a prayer to the Hawaiian gods. As Kaawaloa recalled, her mother told them that cleaning the house and the yard was an offering.

It took weeks for the family to get cleared to return, but when they did, their mother led the hour and a half hike -- over hot lava -- back to their house. When Minnie saw that the home was still standing, Kaawaloa told Hawaii News Now, she cried.

As of Wednesday morning, the June 27 lava flow remains active but is moving slowly at about 800 feet per day. According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, there is no way to predict its path or duration.

Below, watch the lava flow as it makes its way through the forest.



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