East Hawaii News

USGS Issues Eruption Warning as June 27 Lava Flow Advances

September 4, 2014, 2:31 PM HST
* Updated September 4, 6:32 PM
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The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Thursday upgraded its Eruption Alert status from a watch status to a warning level as the June 27 lava flow creeps within a mile of the Kaohe Homesteads.

A helicopter flyover this morning showed the lava flow just eight-tenths of a mile away from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve and nearing the homesteads.

Hawai`i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued an emergency proclamation at the same time as the HVO’s announcement, allowing authorities to restrict access to Kaohe Homesteads to residents only. In the proclamation, he said that the flow, if unimpeded, “will cross Highway 130 at an unknown time.”

“We are taking this step to ensure our residents have time to prepare their families, their pets, and their livestock for a safe and orderly evacuation from Ka‘ohe in the event the flow continues to advance,” Mayor Kenoi said in a statement.

Hawai`i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira stresses that there is still no immediate threat and that no evacuation orders have been put in place. Kenoi’s proclamation, however, states that the approaching lava flow could bring threats of “wildfire and methane explosions.”

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In a radio message distributed Thursday morning, Oliveira said that the lava flow is moving slowly toward the east-northeast and has crept about 100 yards in the last 24 hours. He also said that there was an appearance of sub-surface flow activity with steam plumes coming out of a crack system.

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In a letter to Gov. Neal Abercrombie, Kenoi says that County and State officials are working together on alternative access for the approximately 8.211 people that may be affected by the lava flow. The number is based on the 2010 Census, but Kenoi says the number “underestimates the present population since it has been reported that the District of Puna is the fastest growing population in the State.”

Kenoi asked Abercrombie to suspend 25 different statutes, covering everything from land, water, forestry, highway safety, and solid waste, to allow for emergency measures to take effect.

Olivera said that the flow is still neither visible, nor accessible, in any public area. He asks the public to continue to stay away from the Kaoha Homesteads out of respect for families in the area. Officers from the Department of Land and Natural Resources are continuing patrols to keep people away from the area.

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Civil Defense and HVO officials will once again hold a community meeting at the Pahoa Community Center Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. in the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.

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