Shortly after this July 24 picture was taken in his Kalapana, Hawaii, backyard, Gary Sleik's house was consumed by lava. (Watch a lava video.)
Lava is a fact of life in Kalapana, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) from the Big Island's Kilauea volcano, known for its lazy streams of fluid rock. Situated within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea may be the only volcano in the world with a drive-in caldera. It's been oozing smooth pahoehoe lava since 1983.
Gary Sleik watches the lava from the Kilauea volcano approaching his house in a long-exposure photograph. All residents of the 20- to 30-home Kalapana Gardens subdivision were advised to evacuate, according to TV station KITV.
The staircase of Gary Sleik's home ignites from the intense heat of advancing lava from the Kilauea volcano early Sunday.
On top of its threat of slowly creeping, molten basaltic rock, Kilauea has another "very dangerous side," scientist Tim Rose told National Geographic News in 2009. According to Rose's research, in the past the volcano has erupted so forcefully that it has hurled rock as far as 10 miles (16 kilometers) away, and could do so again.
Into That Good Night
Gary Sleik's house burns shortly after lava from Kilauea's 27-year-old eruption—the longest in recorded history—finally reached the home early Sunday.
Journalist John McPhee recounted the early days of the Kilauea eruption in his book The Control of Nature. "There have been times of crisis when it was consuming a house every 30 minutes," he wrote. According to McPhee, the lava devastated villages and subdivisions—and also a burgeoning industry of marijuana plantations.
Many Hawaiians traditionally attribute the fiery appetite of the Earth to the volcano goddess Pele, said to live in a Kilauea vent.
Smell the Ashes
With a bottle of wine and a good friend, Gary Sleik (at right) watches his house burn just after 4 a.m.
Sleik "welcomes an end to the stress he's had to live with,"according to the European Pressphoto Agency. His home had been threatened by lava for three years and is only the latest in a long list of area structures claimed by the volcano.