BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials say Thursday morning's assessment shows the leading surface edge of the Puna lava flow is still inactive and has not advanced since Wednesday. They say the flow front remains approximately 100 yards wide.
USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory flew over the lava flow Wednesday afternoon. They say although the leading edge of the June 27th flow stalled over the weekend, breakouts are still active near the flow front and are only a short distance behind the flow's leading edge. They also observed lava slowly advancing on a different front, along the north margin of the flow. Experts say the breakouts are all upslope from the stalled flow front on the north margin of the flow.
USGS says the most active of these breakouts is advancing northeast from the north edge of the flow about 820 yards back from the stalled front. Officials say it has moved forward more than 250 yards since Monday, but appeared fairly weak on Wednesday afternoon. Other breakouts are closer to the Pu'u 'O'o crater vent, roughly midway along the length of the June 27th flow. None of these breakouts by itself has been very vigorous, but together they compose a significant portion of the total flow volume. Some of these breakouts are also producing smoke plumes as they creep into the forest along both the north and south edges of the flow.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says no evacuation is needed at this time and residents will be given adequate notice to safely evacuate should that be necessary.
HELCO crews will be working in the Government Beach road area and digging holes to allow for the installation of power poles. Officials say the road will be blocked and the public is advised to avoid the area and use alternate routes to allow for these operations.
The public is reminded that the flow is not visible and cannot be accessed from any public areas. Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision is still restricted to residents only.
The next lava flow community update meeting will be held with representatives from Hawai'i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Thursday, September 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.
The County of Hawai'i has established an Incident Command Center and Informational Resource Center at the Pahoa Community Center. Residents are invited to the information center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for answers to their questions.
More details tonight on Hawaii News Now in a live report from Puna.