PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 800 Puna residents are now without power after destructive lava flows damaged several light poles in the Lanipuna area.
Hawaiian Electric Light crews have been shutting down parts of circuits affected by volcanic activity since eruptions began on May 3. On Sunday, another two poles fell after being damaged by a lava flow on Kahukai Street.
The toppled poles led to an outage that affected 30 additional customers in the community, which is still under a mandatory evacuation order. HELCO officials say they have de-engerized the fallen lines, but are holding off on sending repair crews until the area has been deemed safe to enter.
On Wednesday, HELCO replaced a pole on Leilani Avenue after the fallen pole blocked the road and caused an outage affecting 500 additional Leilani Estates residents.
Some 300 residents in the Leilani subdivision have been without electricity since eruptions began last week — and in the past 24 hours, about 50 residents in Lanipuna Gardens have also lost power.
A preliminary aerial inspection found that at least 50 poles have been damaged by lava, according to HELCO officials.
Hawaiian Electric Light still has enough power to support the island, despite the shutdown of the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, which provides about 25 percent of the island's electricity, according to officials.
"As the county Civil Defense agency has warned, this event remains extremely unpredictable and no one should make assumptions about when affected areas will be safe," said HELCO spokesperson Rhea Lee-Moku.
"As the eruption moves into new areas, there may be additional outages so residents need to be prepared. We will only make repairs when it's safe for our crews to do the work."