Lava heading toward Puna not slowing down

Lava heading toward Puna not slowing down
Published: Aug. 26, 2014 at 3:29 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 27, 2014 at 5:58 PM HST
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This view is towards the east, you can see homes in the distance (Image: USGS)
This view is towards the east, you can see homes in the distance (Image: USGS)

PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - The June 27 lava flow heading toward Puna on the Big Island is not slowing down.

Experts with the Hawaii Volcano Observatory say it has traveled another quarter mile since Friday.

They say the lava is less than two miles away from the Kaohe Homesteads Subdivision and there is no current indication that the flow will stop anytime soon.

Officials with the Hawaii County Civil Defense say people who live closest to where it is may start to hear things, see the glow of the lava, as well as smell the forest burning.

Big island families met with those officials Monday evening at the Pahoa Community Center to find out how serious this threat is.

It was standing room only as concerned residents packed the room wanting to know the likelihood of the lava hitting their homes, its current path and plans for evacuation.

"My biggest concern is how long does it take and when it might hit because I don't want my kids to be in school when the time comes," said Nani Berinomis.

"From what I saw on the maps, we're like right in the main flow of everything and we'll probably be the first ones to be hit in the Pahoa district," said Chuck Cullen.

While residents in the area are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst, scientists are tracking the lava's path very carefully.

The lava is not posing any immediate threat to residents. But scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey say the flow could reach those areas within weeks.

"It's had some changes in its behaviors and patterns. Most recently, beginning last Friday, it entered a crack and it was just basically funneling into this crack underground. So it was very difficult for the scientists to then predict or evaluate exactly where was the leading edge of the flow," said Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense.

"It's gonna be very difficult to forecast exactly where this will go, especially if the lava is just going to come out of one crack, move over, and flow into another," said Hawaii Volcano Observatory lead scientist.

The U.S.G.S will be doing daily flyovers to track its progress. Besides homes and farms, the flow could also threaten high-powered transmission lines connected to the Puna Geothermal Facility.

There will be another community meeting Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. at the Pahoa Community Center for the latest information.

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