Hawaii’s Kilauea lava nearing homes, residents warned to leave

Hawaiian authorities have alerted Pahoa residents that the lava flow on the Big Island has picked up speed. As of late Sunday, the Kilauea’s lava advanced 170 yards since 9:00 a.m. and is moving at a rate of 15 to 20 yards per hour. Between Sunday morning and Monday morning, the lava traveled about 275 yards.

As of Monday morning, the lava is now about 100 yards from its nearest home, having crossing Apaa Street in Pahoa Village on Sunday. The flow of lava seems destined for the Pahoa Village Road, the main street through downtown. After weeks of slow advancement, dozens of Pahoa Village residents are finally being told they may have to evacuate.

Some residents say they can see the flow front from their homes and were ready to evacuate if required. Hawaii Country Civil Defence Director Darryl Oliveria, said that accommodations are being made. He says, “You can only imagine the frustration as well as … despair they’re going through.”

The flow has already passed over a Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites. Oliveria estimates that there are between 50 to 60 businesses, homes and structures that could be impacted by the lava.

Janet Babb, spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, notes that a team of observatory scientists continually walk alongside the flow day and night to provide updates. She says that residents living down slope from the flow have received an evacuation advisory and that most have left or at least have arrangements if they need to leave quickly.

The couple who own the house closest to the lava flow have evacuated but return periodically to gather possessions. Oliveria says, “They are out of the property and awaiting the events to unfold.” It’s estimated the lava could reach their house sometime late Monday.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists gave their first official public warning of Kilauea on August 22, while residents were still cleaning up from a tropical storm. Kilauea, which is home to Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, is one of the world’s most active volcanoes, continuously erupting since 1983. The last evacuation notice due to Kilauea lava was in 2011. In the 1990s, more than 200 homes were destroyed by Kilauea lava.

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