Lava flow shuts down Hawaii sightseeing spot - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Lava flow shuts down Hawaii sightseeing spot

Leigh Hilbert Leigh Hilbert
Hawaii County Civil Defense director Quince Mento Hawaii County Civil Defense director Quince Mento

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KALAPANA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Madam Pele is on the move, putting on the hottest show in Hawaii that's too close for comfort. On Wednesday night, firefighters were on alert and families on edge as Big Island Civil Defense tracked a lava flow that shut down a popular sightseeing spot.

Fresh lava is burning brush along Highway 130 and Civil Defense is keeping an eye out for one Kalapana home that Pele appears to be heading for.

"It's quite a surreal scene down there," said Leigh Hilbert, a photographer.

Hilbert captured video of the molten lava, re-paving Highway 130 and threatening to ignite the roadside brush.

This new flow, branched off overnight, oozing so close to the ocean entry viewing area, Civil Defense shut it down. But the fire, isn't the only hazard.

"Once it hits the highway, the asphalt starts burning so there's toxic acids coming out of there," said Quince Mento, Big Island Civil Defense.

"When it hits the pavement, it's not a pleasant scene. It's black smoke and it starts sizzling, and popping and dumping and little explosive sounds," said Hilbert.

Kalapana residents, who are used to living in Kilauea's shadow, are a little nervous.

"They're on the concerned side. They've been feeling pretty confident that it wasn't going to proceed easterly but it has broken out easterly, which is where Kalapana Gardens is," said Hilbert.

There's no threat to the subdivision right now, but the County says lava is creeping within a mile from one Kalapana home - close enough for Civil Defense to keep watch.

The last time lava touched the coastal highway was October.

In recent weeks, breakouts have been feeding surface flows from Pulama Pali, down to the coast. Last Thursday, one reached the ocean, attracting 1,000-plus visitors per day.

"Very unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of attraction, doing our best to provide that but also keep it safe as possible because it is a hazard," said Mento.

It's a surge from the crater that's bringing both beauty and danger.

Lava is also burning the Kipuka forest. Civil Defense says it doesn't expect runaway brush fires. but conditions could change, so firefighters will continue to monitor the flow.

Lava flow photo and video source: Leigh Hilbert Photography

Copyright 2010 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly