HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "A gift of time" -- that's how officials with Hawai'i County Civil Defense say residents in lower Puna should be considering these next few days, weeks or possibly months after the Puna lava flow stalled and hasn't advanced since Sunday.
Officials say Friday morning's overflight of the lava flow, which began June 27, once again indicated the flow has not progressed forward. However, they stress despite the inactivity, Pahoa is not in the clear because Pu'u 'O'o crater is still very active and there are several breakouts. Officials say anyone who is living downslope of the projected path needs to continue making emergency plans.
Civil Defense officials say the small breakout flow upslope from the leading edge along the north flank also appears to be slowing and decreasing in activity. That breakout has advanced approximately 35 yards since Thursday.
USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will be flying over the lava flow Friday afternoon and are expected to release new projections on its speed and path once they complete their data assessment. Friday morning they observed there was surface lava closer to the area where the lava exits the crack system, about 2 miles towards Pu'u 'O'o from the flow front.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says no evacuation is needed at this time and residents will be given adequate notice to safely evacuate should that be necessary.
HELCO crews will be working in the Government Beach road area and digging holes to allow for the installation of power poles. Officials say the road will be blocked and the public is advised to avoid the area and use alternate routes to allow for these operations.
The public is reminded that the flow is not visible and cannot be accessed from any public areas. Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision is still restricted to residents only.
More details in a live report from Puna tonight on Hawaii News Now.