Hawaii Island mayor: ‘Disrespectful’ spectators are throwing marshmallows at lava

More than 17,000 vehicles have traveled the lava viewing route on Old Saddle Road, but not all lava watchers are following the rules.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 8:58 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:18 AM HST
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HILO (HawaiiNewsNow) - As thousands continue to flock to Hawaii Island to see the eruption of Mauna Loa, which continues its slow advance toward the highway, the county’s mayor is urging spectators to be respectful.

“We’ve been seeing people being really disrespectful, putting trash out there, throwing marshmallows into the lava,” said Hawaii County Mayor Mitch Roth, in a news conference on the eruption Wednesday.

“Not only is that bad for the environment and people are trespassing, but it’s disrespectful to Hawaiians and their love for Madame Pele and the culture of Hawaii. It’s really bad. So we ask people to be respectful.”

His key message: Stay by your car and don’t venture into lava fields.

The message comes as Mauna Loa continues to produce a spectacular show.

The Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory said the volcano’s main lava flow is approximately 1.8 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway ― and moving at an average rate of about 20 feet per hour.

“Funneling at the vent is still ongoing. It’s roughly similar to what we’ve seen in the previous days,” said Matthew Patrick, who showed a live view of the the lava channel from the field. “The flow here is steady and sustained.”

Scientists said they are also monitoring a new overflow about 4 kilometers upslope from the lava front.

Meanwhile, officials continued to reiterate there is no direct threat to downslope communities.

Earlier this week, 20 Hawaii National Guard members were activated to assist law enforcement with traffic control measuresn. One main goal: To ensure lava spectators are able to safely get through a special viewing area.

Since the viewing area was opened, about 17,000 cars have passed through.


The Mauna Loa eruption started Nov. 27 after months of elevated earthquake activity.

The 13,681-foot Mauna Loa volcano had been rumbling more in the last several months, prompting many to believe an eruption was imminent. The last time Mauna Loa erupted was in 1984.

For details on volcano hazard zones, click here.


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.