Strong earthquakes shake Hawaii's Big Island near volcano

PAHOA, Hawaii (KGTV and AP) - A 6.9 earthquake and several other strong quakes shook Hawaii’s Big Island Friday near where a volcanic eruption has forced residents to evacuate.

The U.S. Geological Survey recorded at least seven quakes that measured above a 4.0 magnitude Friday, in addition to smaller tremors.

Hawaii County Civil Defense says Friday's earthquakes were centered near the south flank of Kilauea volcano. Officials say there's no tsunami threat to the Big Island.

After a week of earthquakes and warning, an eruption began Thursday and continued Friday, with lava spurting from three volcanic vents.

SLIDESHOW: Volcano erupts, sends lava over roads

Acting Mayor Wil Okabe says officials are trying to confirm a fourth vent.

He says two homes have burned. He says one owner lives on the U.S. mainland and officials are trying to find the owner of the second home, who is likely in a shelter. Officials are trying to confirm the extent of the damage, but Okabe says the houses likely burned completely.

Some residents living near spattering lava in Hawaii said Friday morning they were frustrated that they were not being allowed to go home.

RELATED: Volcanic eruption, lava forces evacuations

Hawaii County issued a mandatory evacuation order for neighborhoods near the lava flow in the mostly rural Puna district of the Big Island. In addition to the danger from lava, civil defense officials are warning the public about high levels of sulfur dioxide.

Brad Stanfill says the lava is more than three miles (5 kilometers) from his house but he's still not being allowed in. He wants to go home to feed his pets and check on his property. He's concerned about reports of looting.

One woman angrily told police guarding Leilani Estates she was going into the area and they couldn't arrest her. She stormed past the police unopposed.

RESOURCE LIST: Hawaii evacuations

The Hawaii National Guard was activated Friday, with 70 soldiers and airmen assisting those affected by volcanic activity. The troops will patrol and assist with evacuations and security.

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