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In this May 24, 2018 photo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighborhood near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii. Three lava flows from eruptions of Kilauea volcano are now flowing into the ocean off Hawaii's Big Island. Hawaii County officials say the third flow started pouring into the sea Thursday. Lava is spewing from a fissure in a rural community that's feeding the two other flows that are reaching the waves. (Grace Simoneau/FEMA via AP)
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In this May 24, 2018 photo from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighborhood near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii. Three lava flows from eruptions of Kilauea volcano are now flowing into the ocean off Hawaii's Big Island. Hawaii County officials say the third flow started pouring into the sea Thursday. Lava is spewing from a fissure in a rural community that's feeding the two other flows that are reaching the waves. (Grace Simoneau/FEMA via AP)
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PAHOA, HI - MAY 5: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava errupts from a new fissure from Luana Street after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 5, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
PAHOA, HI - MAY 5: In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, lava errupts from a new fissure from Luana Street after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 5, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. The governor of Hawaii has declared a local state of emergency near the Mount Kilauea volcano after it erupted following a 5.0-magnitude earthquake, forcing the evacuation of nearly 1,700 residents. (Photo by U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)
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This is what it's like on the ground on Hawaii's Big Island
(CNN) —  

The Kilauea volcano erupted three weeks ago in Hawaii, and between the gushing lava, ash and toxic gas, it’s a never-ending nightmare for Lower Puna residents.

“I would take one breath, and it would hurt,” the Pahoa resident said. “My throat was on fire. My eyes were burning.”

Hinkle and countless other residents on Hawaii’s Big Island are fighting the toxic effects of sulfur dioxide, which is still spewing from cracks in the Earth’s surface after the eruption on May 3.

Since then, the summit of Kilauea has erupted periodically with no warning. The latest eruption happened Tuesday, Hawaii County’s civil defense agency said, spewing toxic gas.

Hinkle said she’s grateful her home has been spared from the lava, but the toxic gas is unbearable.

“It tastes metallic. As soon as you get it in your mouth, you want to spit,” Hinkle said. “Once I realized what was going on, I put on the particulate mask that they gave us.”

Officials have been handing out particulate masks to help residents on southeast Big Island breathe. But now they’re warning about other hazards and even more eruptions.

Lava finally reaches the Pacific – only to create a deadly danger called laze

Residents “should be prepared to leave the area with little notice due to gas or lava inundation,” Hawaii County’s civil defense agency said.

Then there’s the risk of explosions at a geothermal power plant. Relentless lava flow has reached the Puna Geothermal Venture property, the civil defense agency said.

Lava reaches geothermal plant area

Relentless lava flow has now reached the Puna Geothermal Venture property, the civil defense agency said. The plant produces electricity by bringing steam up from underground wells and funneling it to a turbine generator.

Officials are trying to prevent possible explosions or the release of toxic fumes by “quenching” most of the wells, Hawaii Emergency Management Agency spokesman Thomas Travis said.

Quenching starts with filling underground wells with cold water. So far, 10 of the 11 wells at the geothermal plant have been quenched, Hawaii County officials said.

Travis said workers might also try to plug the wells, perhaps by filling them with mud and capping them with iron plugs.

The financial toll is devastating

Since Kilauea’s massive eruption, rivers of fire have swallowed at least 40 structures, hurled lava through cracks in the Earth’s surface and devastated livelihoods.

Rivers of fiery lava run across southeast Big Island.
MICK KALBER/TROPICAL VISIONS VIDEO/Paradise Helicopters
Rivers of fiery lava run across southeast Big Island.

“Everything has taken a major hit,” said Hinkle, who works in landscaping and horticulture. “Everyone is running away and leaving the island.”

Madison Welch moved to Hawaii three months ago to be with her mother. She’s already lost two tourism-related jobs due to Kilauea’s eruption.

Hinkle, 46, said she’s financially stressed but can’t leave now. Her partner is settled on Big Island, where he owns 90 acres of property.

But as the days pass with no income, Hinkle is feeling nervous.

“With as many normal bills as people have, you still don’t know what’s going to happen,” she said. “It’s not like this show is going to end tomorrow.”

CNN’s Scott McLean and Stephanie Elam contributed to this report from Pahoa, Hawaii.