Residents in the path of the lava have been placed on alert for
possible evacuation, and smoke advisories have been issued for
downwind areas, the County of Hawaii said in a civil defense alert.
The lava flow, which first bubbled out of the continuously erupting
volcano on June 27, came to a standstill in late September but
resumed its slow crawl several weeks ago. It has moved about 275
yards since Sunday morning.
The leading edge of the flow, which is about 110 yards wide and
spreading, has overrun a cemetery on its path toward Pahoa village,
a historic former sugar plantation consisting of small shops and
homes with a population of about 800 people.
The civil defense message said the lava was advancing about 10 to 15
yards an hour, but had slowed considerably to some 2 yards per hour
by late afternoon.
While its speed has varied, if the lava continues on its current
trajectory it could impact property in the next day or so.
Two roads have been closed and the American Red Cross has opened an
emergency shelter, according to the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi.
By Monday afternoon, the leading edge of the lava was 570 yards from
Pahoa Village Road, the major thoroughfare through town, Kenoi's
Pahoa resident Miki Warren said the road closures and visitors
flocking to the town looking for a glimpse of lava have snarled
traffic, and that she has decided to move in with her boyfriend
because her home is threatened.
[to top of second column]
"It's affecting us in every aspect of our lives," said Warren, who
works at a surf shop in town. "There's just no escaping it."
Crews have been scrambling to build temporary access roads and
protect Highway 130, a major route traveled by as many as 10,000
cars a day.
Without such access roads, some 8,000 people in the Puna district
could become "lava-locked" if Highway 130 were to become impassable.
The Kilauea volcano has erupted from its Pu'u O'o vent since 1983.
The last home destroyed by lava on the Big Island was at the Royal
Gardens subdivision in Kalapana in 2012, according to Big Island
(Reporting by Malia Mattoch McManus in Honolulu and Karin Stanton in
Pahoa; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Peter
Cooney and Ryan Woo)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.