Thousands flock to see ‘epic’ Mauna Loa eruption as lava flows light up sky
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thousands of people are flocking to see Mauna Loa’s fiery show, prompting Hawaii Island officials to tell people not to park or walk along Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
Hawaii Island Mayor Mitch Roth issued a second emergency order on Wednesday to ban parking and walking on the highway between the 16 mile marker and the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Hawaii Belt Road.
Spectators are asked to park at designated parking areas.
This comes after a car was hit as it was driving off the shoulder to the main road Tuesday night. Two people were treated for minor injuries.
It’s a $1,000 fine for illegally parked vehicles. County officials say police patrols and enforcement will continue along the highway throughout the eruption.
Officials are urging people to drive safely and stay alert, especially when driving in the dark.
Among those who came out to catch a glimpse of the spectacular view was a family gathered at Mauna Kea State Recreation Area. “I saw the 1984 Mauna Loa and I followed the eruption,” said one of the family members.
“It’s like the goddess returned.”
“It’s epic,” others chimed in.
Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, said there have been large crowds at the park. She urged people to come before 9 a.m. or after 9 p.m. to avoid the most congestion.
“This is a rare time that we have two eruptions simultaneously,” she said.
“We are watching Pele come to life. This is quite a sacred event.”
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said at least three fissures opened up Monday, shooting out lava up to 200 feet into the sky. A fourth fissure opened early Tuesday.
SPECIAL SECTION: Mauna Loa Eruption
Lava continues to flow down the northeast rift zone. Officials said the eruption does not pose any current threat.
While some drove to get a better view of the eruption, many could see the glow from their homes.
“My daughter in Washington texted us saying the volcanoes erupting and it was 5 in the morning,” said Claudia Palea, who is originally from Pepeeko and now lives in Seattle.
“And we woke up and from my sister’s bedroom, we opened the blinds and we could see it.”
“It brought back memories because growing up here, we used to head up to the volcano and go and watch it. So fond memories growing up on the island, it makes me feel like I’m home again.”
Based on past eruptions, scientists believe this lava flow could last one to two weeks and remain inside the northeast rift zone — away from populated centers.
However, officials are getting prepared in case things change and urge residents to remain vigilant.
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