East Hawaii News

UPDATE: Malama Market in Pahoa Closing Thursday

December 15, 2014, 1:27 PM HST
* Updated December 15, 5:47 PM
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***Updated at 5:35 p.m. to include new information on Pahoa’s Malama Market.***

Multiple media outlets are reporting that Malama Market, located in the Pahoa Marketplace, will close Thursday as the June 27 lava flow front continues its approach toward the shopping center.

Malama Market, owned by The Kalama Beach Corporation, will remain open until 10 p.m. through Wednesday, and will close at 6 p.m. Thursday.

***Original story posted at 1:27 p.m.***

As the June 27 lava flow continues its consistent rate of advancement towards the Pahoa Village Marketplace, Hawai’i County officials and area business owners are at the height of preparation.

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For as much as two weeks, business owners in the Pahoa Village Marketplace complex have been informed of the approaching flow and the potential for evacuation of the area.

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The lava flow is about 1.1 miles from the back end of the Pahoa Village Marketplace, as of Monday morning, and has been consistently advancing over the past several days at a rate of about 300 yards a day.

Hawai’i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said in a media call late Monday morning that although no formal evacuation advisory has been issued, Civil Defense and business owners have been in close contact with each other, meeting several times over the past two weeks.

“We have been telling them from as early as two weeks ago what the possible and potential path might be,” Oliveira said. “We have kept in touch with the merchants throughout the marketplace. Over a week ago, we met with them and identified for each one of the stores a time frame by which they would need to take action. For the larger stores, about seven days is needed for preparation. For the smaller stores and businesses, maybe three days.”

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According to Oliveira, business owners are not awaiting Civil Defense’s call to prepare their businesses for the potential impact. “Every one of them [the merchants] has been kept informed about what the flow has been doing, what’s the latest advancement, what’s the, if it stays on this advancement rate, possible estimated arrival at the back door of the property.”

“Every one of them has been doing what they need to do internally to prepare for a possible evacuation. We will make that evacuation advisory when it becomes evident that we need to do so,” Oliveira continued.

Among the businesses on the property is an Aloha gas station that has been of particular concern for the community. Special preparations are being made for the safety precautions of the service station should the lava flow impact that section of the complex.

A plan that has been approved and supported by both the Environmental Protection Agency and the State Department of Health is in place for the station operator to sell off whatever product the tank has on hand, pump out whatever is remaining, and then fill the tank with a combination of water and firefighting class B foam, which is the foam used on flammable liquids.

Oliveira said that other ideas came up in discussion about what to use as preventative measures on the gas station tank, including the use of sand to fill it.

The option of filling the tank with water and firefighting foam won out over other ideas because of its potential to not only smother out flammable vapors, but also because of the possibility to recover the tanks post impact, or should the lava flow miss the gas station.

Civil Defense personnel will continue to meet and prepare with the businesses owners in the Pahoa Marketplace complex, as well as those in the adjacent Longs Drugs area shopping center.

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