I have been reading a number of legends about Pele, the goddess who is responsible for the eerie blackened landscapes. When she's angry, she sends the pahoe-hoe lava and the a'a lava down the slopes -- you can see both kinds in this photo.
Pele destroys whole forests and often kills people or buries their houses when they have angered her. She sent this lava in around 1970. I don't know what the current Hawaiians did to deserve it. As I have mentioned, she's also been busy lately, closing one vent and opening a new source of lava far inside the park away from the roads.
Pele's sisters were often victims of her jealous rages. She particularly rivaled the sister who was goddess of the sea. Another sister had a beautiful forest on the slopes of Kilauwea. And though Pele promised to save the forest, she lost her temper in a fit of jealousy, opened a new caldera, and hot lava destroyed all the trees as well as the mortal man that both she and her sister loved.