Trapped by Lava: Leilani Estates Residents Need Immediately Evacuation

PUNA, HAWAII – May, 28, 2018

Activity at Fissure No. 7 increased overnight, producing fountains as high as a 20-story building. USGS reported, Fissure 7 activity is very dynamic, producing a large spatter rampart over 100 feet tall from fountains reaching 150-200 feet.

Due to a fast-moving lava flow from Fissure 7 Leilani Estates residents in several areas (Nohea St and Luana St, between Leilani Ave and Kahukai, and Kupono Street, between Malama Street and Leilani Avenue) have to "evacuate immediately", told civil defense officials.

While the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions — home to about 2,000 — have been under mandatory evacuation orders, at least 200 people have remained in the communities.

Lava flow from Fissures 7 and 21 crossed into PGV property overnight and has now covered one well that was successfully plugged last week. That plugged well, along with a second well 100 feet away, are stable and secured, both are being monitored. Neither well is expected to release any hydrogen sulfide, due to preventative measures. Volcanic gas emissions remain elevated throughout the area downwind of the vents in lower Puna.

Activity at Fissure 22 has waned, and Fissure 13 is the dominant source of lava entering the ocean, which is occurring at three minor entry points. Fountaining is occurring at Fissure 8, USGS reported.

Over the weekend, the lava started moving more quickly and emerging from the ground in greater volume. That's because the lava that first erupted was magma left over from a 1955 eruption that had been stored in the ground for the past six decades, scientists said.

"It's been like hell," said resident Ikaika Marzo to the media. He described the sounds of lava in the area as 10 or 20 jets taking off at once and right in your backyard. "It's like huge grenades going off," he said. "It shakes the whole community."

Steve Brantley, of the USGS, said the large cracks, which have torn roads apart in some places or created gaps of 1 yard or wider, are an indication that magma is continuing to enter the rift zone.

"The rift zone is being forced apart," he said. "I think clearly it points to the potential for additional eruptive activity" in lower Puna.

Lava flow has destroyed at least 82 structures and covered some 2,400 acres in lower Puna (about 3.8 square miles) since the first outbreak happened more than three weeks ago.

"There's a lot to be concerned about," said Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator. "We're always on guard."

In the event the ongoing eruption of Kilauea along the lower East Rift Zone forces a mass evacuation out of Puna, the U.S. Marine Corps has deployed two large transport helicopters to Hilo.

The two CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters, which can carry more than 50 passengers at a time and their respective air crews from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 463 (HMH-463) are on the Big Island, here in support of Joint Task Force 5-0, the joint military force assisting Hawaii County with the current volcanic eruption. The Marine Corps Base Hawaii-based Super Stallions have an internal lifting capability of 30,000 pounds, the Hawaii Department of Defense says.

“The additional helicopter support from USPACOM and MARFORPAC provides the County of Hawaii and Hawaii’s Joint Task Force-50 tremendous capability. We now have the capacity to evacuate all the estimated population of lower Puna south of the lava flow within a few hours,” said JTF 5-0 commander, Brig. Gen. Kenneth Hara in a media release.

The helicopters would allow an evacuation to be completed within a few hours, said the Marine Corps.

Hawaii County Civil Defense in coordination with USGS/HVO continues to monitor the lower East Rift Zone activity 24/7.

You can vote for a state that you think is under threat of evacuation in the Reader Polls: http://test.usareally.com/poll/15

photo: BIVN

Author: USA Really

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