Evacuation notice for extremely fast-moving lava in Hawaii

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HILO, HAWAII – MAY 31, 2018

“If you were walking fast, the lava was moving that speed,” Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim, said Monday morning at Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.

Hawaii County Civil Defense warns anyone in the area from Pomaikai Street east to leave the area immediately. Lava from Kilauea volcano destroyed 10 homes Sunday night in Leilani Estates, and a fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow from fissure No. 8, moving toward on Nohea and Kupono streets, north of Leilani Street, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is reporting.

This fountaining from Fissure 8 continued to feed a lava flow that moved downslope along Highway 132. Advance rates accelerated late Tuesday and early Wednesday, forcing evacuations as emergency responders worry residents could be painted into a corner on the east side of the Big Island. Residents in Kapoho — including Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland — have been advised to evacuate, according to a Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency message.

Personnel from the Hawaii Fire Department, state Department of Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, county Department of Public Works, and Hawaii National Guard were involved in the evacuation of residents from the affected portion of the subdivision.

Lava also covered a second well as Puna Geothermal Venture, production well KS-5. Well KS-6 was covered late Sunday afternoon.

Snyder said there was no release of hydrogen sulfide gas at the geothermal power plant, which has been taken offline due to the lava emergency.

“Gas monitors are key to our public warning system … so the Department of Health is making sure our gas monitor sites are up and running at numerous occasions.”

Those in areas with high sulfur dioxide levels are advised to be prepared to leave with little or no notice. N-95 masks that are being distributed are for ash particles and do not protect wearers from gases or vapors, including SO2.

Civil Defense also warns that ash and vog can decrease visibility for drivers. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust. And in addition to volcanic particles that can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation, residents were warned to be on the lookout for Pele's hair, a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Pele's hair is sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers. Pahoa residents reported seeing it fall Monday night.

"Avoid touching it or getting it in your eyes," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. "It can cause injury to eyes and lungs if breathed in."

Earlier, residents had been advised to take shelter at the Pahoa Community Center, Keaau Community Center and the Sure Foundation Church. Pets are allowed at the shelters.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim saying late Tuesday that first responders would cease going door-to-door in dangerous areas once final evacuation orders were issued. Those who decline to evacuate are on their own.

First responders put themselves in danger on Sunday and Monday nights trying to help people who had refused to evacuate, Kim said.

About 2,500 people have been evacuated since Kilauea Volcano erupted more than three weeks ago, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno. More than 300 people are staying in emergency shelters.

Author: USA Really


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