Unpredictable Lava Flow Forces Officials into Action

Neil Gyotoku
Neil Gyotoku
Joe Esposito
Joe Esposito

KILAUEA, Big Island (KHNL) -- Lava from Kilauea is moving through the remote Royal Gardens Subdivision and heading towards the ocean.

The unpredictable nature of lava flow is once again forcing officials to take notice.

"Yeah, I think in about 72 hours, it's traveled about 1.5 miles," said Neil Gyotoku of Hawaii Civil Defense.

Hawaii Volcano Observatory personnel reported a well developed lava tube system has formed, channeling the molten rock towards the ocean.

It was a spectacular event that happened back in 2001 and drew thousands of tourists and locals to the area.

Near Highway 130, work has begun to clear debris and widen the road to create a safe eruption viewing area for the anticipated rush of visitors.

"When Mother Nature takes over, you gotta do what you gotta do," said Hawaii resident Joe Esposito.  "So, can't stop her."

If the lava continues to move at its current rate, it's expected to hit the coastal area within the next few days.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials hope to open the viewing area by this weekend, until then it is closed to the public.