PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Puna lava flow is now 0.9 miles from Apa'a Street in Pahoa town, according to USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Officials say the flow has narrowed to 110 yards wide and has moved approximately 300 yards in the past two days, progressing another 65 yards in the last 24 hours.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials observed the flow front moving northeast along a tree line during their flyover Thursday morning, but say it appears it will soon begin to enter areas of lighter vegetation. They say the burning activity is producing a significant amount of smoke, however smoke conditions in the area were improving to light to moderate with a light trade wind out of the northeast.
USGS scientists say if the flow continues to push forward at its current average rate of 130 yards a day, it could reach Apa'a Street in 14 days. Officials say the advance rate of the June 27th flow has varied significantly during the past month and their projection could change, but they urge lower Puna district residents to use this time to prepare. The next HVO overflight is scheduled for Friday, October 10.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say currently all lava flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities.
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. However, officials say due to the unpredictable nature of the lava flow — residents and visitors are advised to listen for Hawai'i County Civil Defense updates and advisories on the radio.
State Department of Health officials issued an advisory Tuesday urging medically-dependent residents living downslope of the flow's projected route to relocate -- citing the uncertainty of the flow and its possible impact on the community. If the lava flow crosses Highway 130, officials say medical services and supplies will be severely limited and emergency response times may be significantly delayed.
Officials also want to remind people that the flow is not visible and cannot be accessed from any public areas. The Ka'ohe Homesteads subdivision is still restricted to property-owners and residents only.
The next lava flow community update meeting will be held with representatives from Hawai'i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Thursday, October 9 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.
In addition, the County of Hawai'i has established an Incident Command Center and Informational Resource Center at the Pahoa Community Center. Residents are invited to the information center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday next week for answers to their questions.
More details tonight on Hawaii News Now.