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Hawaii community eyes slowly approaching lava

HONOLULU (AP) - Rural Hawaii residents still recovering from a recent tropical storm are keeping a nervous eye on slowly advancing lava that may reach their community within a week.

Lava from Kilauea volcano is within less than a mile of Kaohe Homesteads, authorities said. Lava could reach the community in five to seven days if it continues on its current path, geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said.

Lava Heading Toward Hawaii Homes, Emergency Declared

It wasn't immediately clear how many homes could be affected.

The isolated, agricultural region is part of the Big Island's Puna district, where Tropical Storm Iselle toppled trees and knocked out power just last month.

Observatory scientists said the lava has been advancing about 800 feet per day since July 10. They've been closely monitoring the flow and on Thursday raised the alert level from "watch" to "warning."

However, the observatory said predicting a flow's exact path can be difficult because of subtle variations in topography, changes in lava volume and where and how lava enters or exits ground cracks.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the agency has not yet ordered an evacuation but will do so when it's clear the lava is at least five days from impacting homes.

"It's very frustrating because even if we look at a five-day period and we tell people to evacuate, it could be weeks before anything happens," Oliveira said.

Mayor Billy Kenoi is declaring an emergency, which will allow authorities to restrict access to roadways so Kaohe Homesteads residents can leave safely if an evacuation becomes necessary.

Officials said exactly how many people live in the subdivision made up of large, mostly agricultural lots is unclear, and county workers have been going door-to-door to conduct counts. Oliveira said his staff members so far have identified 20 to 30 households.

The county is asking all of Puna to be on alert because it's possible the lava could change direction and threaten other communities, he said. It also is advising people to stay away from the Kaohe Homesteads.

When scientists first warned the public about the flow two weeks ago, people wanting a glimpse of the lava began taking helicopter tours over Kaohe and increasing traffic in the community, Oliveira said. He stressed that lava can't be seen from the subdivision.

The Kilauea volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, but new vents - or points where lava reaches the surface - have opened periodically. Lava from the volcano normally doesn't approach homes, but it did wipe out neighborhoods in 1990.

People continue to live in the area in part because of affordable land and a rural life that feels a world away from Honolulu's big city bustle. "People want to live where they find a place that appeals to them," Oliveira said, "while accepting and understanding we live within these hazards."

The last time an evacuation was ordered was in 2011, recalled Oliveira, who was fire chief at the time. He said the lava destroyed one home before changing course and sparing others.

Most of the lava flows from Kilauea's east rift zone have pushed south, but this recent flow is moving northeast, which is unusual but not unprecedented, according to the observatory.

Jim Kauahikaua, the observatory's scientist-in-charge, has said the current flow is being channeled by two previous flows, which makes it move faster.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
jltjt9 September 04 2014 at 10:58 PM

There are always eruptions in Hawaii but we can expect an increase in Volcanic activity as the sun is going through one of its cycles and these storms send energy towards earth and affects what is known as the Ring of Fire beginning from California to Alaska and then Japan and the expected heating up of the planet, not by greenhouse gas but by natural and reoccurring natural events.

It has happened before and it will happen again.

It is, an inconvenient truth and why there was so much Co 2 in the atmosphere the last time this happened, without the cars and factories which we have today.

And when it comes to the increases of Volcanic activity, our greenhouse gas is nothing by comparison to the increase of volcano's and other volcanic activities along the Ring of Fire and the heating of the Pacific Ocean.

Although I suspect that this administration will still claim it is happening because of mankinds use of certain fuels, helping of course with their own agenda.

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3 replies
thorrsman September 04 2014 at 7:44 PM

Nature is a Mother, no question of that.

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2 replies
raptureus210 thorrsman September 05 2014 at 7:44 AM

Who do you think controls "Mother Nature"? Holy God and He also allows these kinds of events to get people's attention. Especially nations who continue to kich Him underneath the bus like the USA.

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3 replies
m4christ2 thorrsman September 05 2014 at 10:25 AM

God has warned us that when we see these things happening, more violent, closer together all at the same time, look up. He's coming back. never has this been like it is today, along with Israel being a nation. truly, the bible has warned us of truth.

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1 reply
quincy_maxwell m4christ2 September 05 2014 at 11:40 AM

Give me a break...people like you have been saying this same old crap for hundreds of years and nothing has happened yet from your almighty god. Btw, thank your god for creating muslims and Islamic thugs....he really did a good job with them, didn't he?

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David September 04 2014 at 11:22 PM

I cannot dredge up any sympathy for the fools who built their homes on the flanks of an active volcano.

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2 replies
fine7760 David September 05 2014 at 2:03 AM

Perhaps when they built it wasn't erupting. It's only been doing so since the 1980's.

Whom I can't feel sorry for are those who build and rebuild their homes below sea level like they do in New Orleans.

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Kevin Arth David September 05 2014 at 11:48 AM

...below sea level like they do in Holland.

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dnkdltn September 05 2014 at 10:40 AM

Chances one takes when they live on something that was made of lava

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magus47 September 05 2014 at 9:03 AM

Love these people. They build their homes next to an active volcano and then act surprised when it erupts.

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1 reply
tdfan5910 magus47 September 05 2014 at 12:45 PM

If you read the article,
#1 nowhere does it say they are surprised
#2 it does say the land is cheap and away from the hustle and bustle of the city, people live where they can afford to live, there are crime ridden parts of the city I live in, I wouldn't want to live in but there are people that live there, why, because that's what they can afford.
#3 The volcano has been erupting since 1983 but has never threatened their homes before now so they probably felt safe.
#4 I would love to live in Hawaii, the worst place in Hawaii probably isn't next to a volcano

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dschmit911 September 04 2014 at 11:57 PM

The governor ordered the sacrifice of 100 virgins to appease the volcano gods, but had to cancel because they could only find 3.
Seriously, I hope the lava flow will stop or turn away from the inhabited areas and no one is hurt.

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1 reply
akauhu dschmit911 September 05 2014 at 8:04 AM

The Hawaiian volcano goddess is a girl,so it's extremely hard to find 1 single male virgin in this whole world.

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msdaubie54 September 04 2014 at 10:55 PM

What are people waiting for? If lava was heading toward my home, that would be my first clue to pack up important (at least to me) items, family and MOVE!I wouldn't wait for the lava to be at my back yard to do so!

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1 reply
Ron msdaubie54 September 05 2014 at 8:45 AM

You must "think" you're the only person in the world who knows the obvious.

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1 reply
kimmer0310 Ron September 05 2014 at 9:48 AM

Apparently it's not obvious to everyone Spanky. Otherwise there wouldn't be a story. That's "obvious".

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Bewley Steve September 05 2014 at 6:21 AM

Why is this news? This is what happens when you live on an active volcano. They should be glad that its slow moving lava and not an active eruption.

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1 reply
Ron Bewley Steve September 05 2014 at 8:46 AM

"NEWS" is meant to inform. If you don't want to be informed go read somewhere else. Are you just a complainer, a control freak, a nut, or what?

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quincy_maxwell September 05 2014 at 11:38 AM

Where is Tommy Lee Jones when you need him?

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John Nardi September 05 2014 at 8:56 AM

Why would you move live near an active volcano ? I'm not sure I get it ? What are the real estate prices there ?

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2 replies
mclkarim John Nardi September 05 2014 at 1:18 PM

I used to own a parcel of land in Nanawale Estates. It actually went up quite a bit in value. I should have sold it then but I held onto it and ended up selling it for way less than I paid for it.

I don't know what anything is worth there these days.

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WatergirlHawaii John Nardi September 05 2014 at 2:07 PM

It's sacred land that's incredibly spiritual, alive, powerful, wild, beautiful, serene, and wonderfilled; with great farming, fishing, hunting, and much more. For some it's on/near family/ancestral land and/or work; and it's available and affordable; and one of the most spectacular and fascinating places on earth.

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