KALAPANA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lava continues to flow towards homes and the ocean near Kalapana. Early Thursday morning, rains helped to douse some of the brush fires that had flared up Wednesday, but observers are still watching the flow closely as it approaches homes.
"The surprising thing is that the lava is split into two different paths. One towards the northeast and it's threatening a home right now. And also to the southeast or towards the ocean between Foxes Landing and Fisherman's Trail…which is also called Ulua Point" said tour operator Greg Nottingham of Big Island Lava Boats.
Evacuations have not been ordered yet, but Wednesday night Stephen Rose, the supervisor of the Kalapana viewing area told Hawaii News Now that the current flow has come closer to Kalapana Gardens homes than ever before.
Meanwhile, sightseers and tour operators alike are waiting for the flow to splash into the ocean.
"From my perspective it's likely at least still 100 yards. It seems like the rains solidified the surface lava last night and it kinda backed off a little bit. I can say it's at least 100 to 200 yards from the ocean. It's filling a cavity at a cliff near Foxes landing. The rain solidified the surface lava so once it overflows it's this big pool area... then I can say in the next day or two it's gonna overflow" said Nottingham.
It's been months since the lava last spilled into the ocean and anticipation is running high.
On Tuesday night, there were 2,200 visitors, and 2,800 Wednesday night, according to Rose.
Kilauea's newest flow is almost there.
"When the lava hits the ocean, business quadruples." said Nottingham.
Lava flow means cash flow, and it's easy to see why through pictures Nottingham took last Winter.
"When you see it, it's just mind boggling, you don't even believe you're on Planet Earth," said Nottingham.
It's a surreal experience that turns into a major attraction.
"We were doing about 25 to 30 tours a week and now, when the lava stopped flowing it dropped off to about to five or 10 tours a week," said Nottingham.
As of Wednesday night, Nottingham said the Big Island is less than 100 yards away from a repeat.
He said fresh lava is between Fox's Landing and Fisherman's Trail and filling a huge hole in a cliff above the water.
"It's like a swimming pool that's filling up with lava...so that means it's likely to overflow tonight or possibly tomorrow or the next day," said Nottingham.
And until it does, Nottingham says half a dozen tour boats are waiting offshore, ready to meet the demand the moment the show begins.
"It's almost as if you were to pay to go to Mars you would get there, and feel like you wasted your money compared to what you'd see right here on the Big Island," he said.
Sightseers beware - police are ticketing drivers who park illegally to get a closer look.