Hawaii residents ready to flee as lava oozes toward homes

People living near an active Hawaii lava flow have been warned to prepare for a possible evacuation in the next three to five days as molten rock oozed across a country road and edged closer to homes.

The flow is currently about 48m to 70m wide and moving north east at about 9m an hour.

The lava crossed a road on the edge of Pahoa, the largest town in the mostly rural region of Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii, at 3.50am local time. It is currently about 1km from Pahoa Village Rd, the town’s main street.

The county will issue a mandatory evacuation order if the flow begins advancing at such a rate that it would be difficult for people to move out of the way with little notice.

Hazardous materials, like a pile of tyres or a stockpile of chemicals in the flow’s path would also trigger a mandatory evacuation, Darryl Oliveira, director of civil defence for Hawaii County said.

Burning asphalt was generating some smoke, but Oliveira said the wind dispersed the fumes over unpopulated areas and it did not pose a health risk at the moment.

Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. Most lava from this eruption has flowed south, but the lava has flowed to the north east in the past two years.

Sporadic suspensions in the lava’s movement gave emergency crews time to work on building alternate routes if the main road and highway are covered. Crews have been wrapping utility poles with concrete rings as a layer of protection from the lava’s heat.


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