Family headstone spared by lava in Hawaii cemetery

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Fast-moving lava headed for town on Hawaii's Big Island - updated 12/24/14
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Family headstone spared by lava in Hawaii cemetery
Visitors view a section of cooled lava from lava flow that began on June 27 as it approaches a shopping center in Pahoa, Hawaii, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Lava flowing in a rural Hawaii town continues to slow down and is estimated to reach a shopping center in about eight days. (AP Photo/Tim Wright)
In this photo taken Dec. 12, 2014, and provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a geologist uses a handheld GPS unit to mark the lava flow margin coordinates in Pahoa, Hawaii. Officials say lava from Kilauea volcano is on course to reach a supermarket and shopping center in the small town of Pahoa in seven to ten days. Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, the lava is about one mile away from Malama Marketplace supermarket. There’s a hardware store, pharmacy and gas station in the same shopping center. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Suvery, Tim Orr)
Gas pumps are removed from the Malama Mart Gas N Go as lava flow that began on June 27 approaches in Pahoa, Hawaii, Friday, Dec. 19, 2014. Lava flowing in a rural Hawaii town continues to slow down and is estimated to reach a shopping center in about eight days. (AP Photo/Tim Wright)
In this photo taken Dec. 12, 2014, and provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, the active lava flow front continues to advance downslope towards the northeast about a mile and a half from the marketplace in Pahoa, Hawaii. Officials say lava from Kilauea volcano is on course to reach a supermarket and shopping center in the small town of Pahoa in seven to ten days. Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, the lava is about one mile away from Malama Marketplace supermarket. There’s a hardware store, pharmacy and gas station in the same shopping center. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Suvery, Tim Orr)
This Nov. 9, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano that began on June 27 as it burns along Cemetery Road and Apa?a Street near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. A small flow of lava moved closer to a now-closed refuse transfer station on Hawaii's Big Island, but the main area of the molten rock hasn't crept any closer to the small town of Pahoa, the U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Nov. 9, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano that began on June 27 near the Pahoa cemetery looking northeast toward houses on Pahoa Village Road on the Big Island of Hawaii. A small flow of lava moved closer to a now-closed refuse transfer station on Hawaii's Big Island, but the main area of the molten rock hasn't crept any closer to the small town of Pahoa, the U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This photo taken on Nov. 1, 2014, and released by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a "toe" of Pahoehoe lava oozing out of the edge of the main flow, about 328 yards upslope of the leading edge of the flow, near the town of Pahoa, Hawaii. The tip of the flow that remains halted in a Pahoa farmer's yard is now cool to the touch, but a few hundred yards upslope an active stretch of lava is "inflating," or filling with fresh lava. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Nov. 9, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano that began on June 27 as it pours from an active breakout near the Pahoa transfer station on the Big Island of Hawaii. A small flow of lava moved closer to a now-closed refuse transfer station on Hawaii's Big Island, but the main area of the molten rock hasn't crept any closer to the small town of Pahoa, the U.S. Geological Survey said Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this Nov. 8, 2014 photo from the U.S. Geological Survey, a tree lies where it has fallen after lava flow burned through its lower trunk near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii County civil defense officials said in a statement Saturday the lava's front remains about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. This position hasn't changed since Oct. 30. But lava is creeping out at several spots upslope of the leading edge. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Nov. 7, 2014 photo from the U.S. Geological Survey shows a time lapse camera that USGS Hawaii Volcano Observatory scientists were using to monitor a lava tube skylight near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. The camera was caught in an overflow of lava surrounding the tripod and melted the power cable. Hawaii County civil defense officials said in a statement Saturday the lava's front remains about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. This position hasn't changed since Oct. 30. But lava is creeping out at several spots upslope of the leading edge.(AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This photo taken on Oct. 31, 2014, and released by the U.S. Geological Survey, shows a hole left behind by a large tree that was surrounded by lava, burned through at its base and collapsed onto the solidified flow surface, near the town of Pahoa, Hawaii. The end of the tree trunk is glowing, and flames from burning wood are emanating from the hole. Geologists say this represents an under-appreciated hazard of the lava flow field, as trees that were surrounded by lava can fall long after the leading edge has passed by. The tip of the flow that remains halted in a Pahoa farmer's yard is now cool to the touch, but a few hundred yards upstream an active stretch of lava is "inflating," or filling with fresh lava. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Nov. 2, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a breakout from an inflated lobe of the June 27 lava flow near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Overnight rain has reduced the smoke that's coming from a lava flow that remains stalled after slowly creeping toward a small town on Hawaii's Big Island, a responder said Sunday. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava that has pushed through a fence marking a property boundary above the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. After weeks of slow, stop-and-go movement, a river of asphalt-black lava was less than the length of a football field from homes in the Big Island community Tuesday. The lava flow easily burned down an empty shed at about 7:30 a.m., several hours after entering a residential property in Pahoa Village, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. A branch of the molten stream was less than 100 yards (90 meters) from a two-story house. It could hit the home later Tuesday if it continues on its current path, Oliveira estimated. Residents of Pahoa Village, the commercial center of the island's rural Puna district south of Hilo, have had weeks to prepare for what's been described as a slow-motion disaster. Most have either already left or are prepared to go. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 30, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a lava breakout around 110 yards behind the leading edge of the flow near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
PAHOA, HI - OCTOBER 30: Lava from the Kilauea Volcano flows across the ground on October 30, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by Andrew Hara/Getty Images)
This Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava burning vegetation as it approaches a property boundary above the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. After weeks of slow, stop-and-go movement, a river of asphalt-black lava was less than the length of a football field from homes in the Big Island community Tuesday. The lava flow easily burned down an empty shed at about 7:30 a.m., several hours after entering a residential property in Pahoa Village, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. A branch of the molten stream was less than 100 yards (90 meters) from a two-story house. It could hit the home later Tuesday if it continues on its current path, Oliveira estimated. Residents of Pahoa Village, the commercial center of the island's rural Puna district south of Hilo, have had weeks to prepare for what's been described as a slow-motion disaster. Most have either already left or are prepared to go. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 27: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a aerial view of the front of the June 27th lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano on October 27, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 27: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a aerial view of the front of the June 27th lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano on October 27, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 27: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), The June 27th lava flow burns through thick vegetation below the pasture downslope of the Pa-hoa cemetery on October 27, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 26: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), A portion of the front of the June 27th lava flow burns through thick vegetation and a fence on October 26, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 26: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an HVO geologist walks across the surface of the lava flow, which covers the short access road to the Pa-hoa cemetery on October 26, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
PAHOA, HAWAII - OCTOBER 26: In this handout provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a HVO geologist maps the margin of the June 27th lava flow in the open field below Apa'a Street and Cemetery Road on October 26, 2014 in Pahoa, Hawaii. Scientists of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory conducted ground and air observations of the lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano and determined that it was 510 meters (560 yards) upslope from Pa-hoa Village Road and the flow width was about 50 meters (55 yards) at the leading edge. Molten rock from the flow is inching its way towards homes in the town of Pahoa on Hawaii's Big Island where close to a thousand people live. (Photo by USGS via Getty Images)
This Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava that has pushed through a fence marking a property boundary above the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. After weeks of slow, stop-and-go movement, a river of asphalt-black lava was less than the length of a football field from homes in the Big Island community Tuesday. The lava flow easily burned down an empty shed at about 7:30 a.m., several hours after entering a residential property in Pahoa Village, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira. A branch of the molten stream was less than 100 yards (90 meters) from a two-story house. It could hit the home later Tuesday if it continues on its current path, Oliveira estimated. Residents of Pahoa Village, the commercial center of the island's rural Puna district south of Hilo, have had weeks to prepare for what's been described as a slow-motion disaster. Most have either already left or are prepared to go. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 27, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava flow from Kilauea Volcano that began on June 27 with Apa?a St., pictured at bottom, and Pahoa Village Road at upper left near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Residents of the small town have had weeks to prepare for what's been described as a slow-motion disaster. County officials are making arrangements for those living in the lava's path to be able to watch the lava destroy their homes as a means of closure. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
Map shows advance of lava flow from volcano in Hawaii;
This Oct. 26, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava flow front of from an eruption that began the June 27, as the front remains active and continues to advance towards the northeast threatening the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dozens of residents in this rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 said lava had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 25, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava flow advancing across the pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apaa Street, engulfing a barbed wire fence, near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dozens of residents in this rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 said lava had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 26, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey a Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologist mapping the margin of the June 27 lava flow in the open field below Cemetery Road near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dozens of residents in this rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 said lava had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 25, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologist standing on a partly cooled section of lava flow near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Note the thin red horizontal line of molten lava visible along the bottom third of the photo. The flow here is about one meter (three feet) thick, but slightly farther upslope where the lava has had more time to inflate the thickness was closer to two meters. Dozens of residents in this rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 said lava had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 25, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a small shed being consumed by lava in a pasture between the Pahoa cemetery and Apa?a Street near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dozens of residents in this rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava continued to advance. Authorities on Sunday, Oct. 26, 2014 said lava had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning and was moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour, consistent with its advancement in recent days. The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this Oct. 24, 2014 photo from the U.S. Geological Survey, the lava flow from Kilauea Volcano that began June 27 is seen as it crossed Apaa Street near Cemetery Road near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Hawaii authorities on Saturday told several dozen residents near the active lava flow to prepare for a possible evacuation in the next three to five days as molten rock oozed across the country road and edged closer to homes. The USGS says the flow is currently about 160 to 230 feet (50 to 70 meters) wide and moving northeast at about 10 yards (nine meters) per hour. It's currently about six-tenths of a mile (one kilometer) from Pahoa Village Road, the town's main street. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a close view of the surface activity from the June 27th flow from the Kilauea volcano in Pahoa, Hawaii. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, Hawaii County spokesman Kevin Dayton said the slow-moving lava is expected to bypass homes in the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, and the lava is about 19 days from reaching Pahoa Village Road. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a vertical view of the lava upslope from the flow front covering a dirt road. A 13-mile finger of lava from Kilauea Volcano has started to again move quickly, and could hit a secondary road sometime Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Officials on Hawaii's Big Island won't start evacuating people until the lava flow is within three to five days of affecting Pahoa residents. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a geologist from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory using a radar gun to measure the speed of the lava flow from the June 27th flow from the Kilauea volcano in Pahoa, Hawaii. On Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014, Hawaii County spokesman Kevin Dayton said the slow-moving lava is expected to bypass homes in the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, and the lava is about 19 days from reaching Pahoa Village Road. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
(Image courtesy: ABC News)
(Image courtesy: ABC News)
(Image courtesy: ABC News)
This Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows lava flow slowly moving through thick vegetation and creating thick plumes of smoke as it advances on the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Frequent methane explosions occur, resulting from cooked vegetation releasing methane which then ignites. The explosions can range from small puffs to loud cannon-like blasts, and are an additional hazard in the immediate area of the flow margin. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey, Hawaii Volcano Observatory geologists walk over the surface of the flow to track surface breakouts along a portion of the flow margin, about a kilometer (0.6 miles) upslope of the flow front, as the lava advances on the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of hawaii. Scorched and burned trees are seena t rear. The growing stream of lava threatening homes is expanding and speeding up as it heads toward the small rural town. Officials say the lava advanced nearly 460 yards from Thursday morning to Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the United States Geological Survey shows the front of a lava flow with numerous smoke plumes arising from active breakouts burning vegetation at the flow margin, near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. The growing stream of lava threatening homes is expanding and speeding up as it heads toward the small rural town. Officials say the lava advanced nearly 460 yards from Thursday morning to Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this Oct. 22, 2014 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a geologist marks the coordinates of the Kilauea lava flow front with a GPS unit. A 13-mile finger of lava from Kilauea Volcano has started to again move quickly, and could hit a secondary road sometime Friday, Oct. 24, 2014. Officials on Hawaii's Big Island won't start evacuating people until the lava flow is within three to five days of affecting Pahoa residents. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Friday, Oct. 10, 2014 photo from the U.S. Geological Survey shows lava from the Pu'u 'O'o vent of Kilauea Volcano slowly approaching the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision at upper left near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Residents on Hawaii's southernmost island already dealt with one tropical storm this year and are coping with the threat of slowly encroaching lava. Now, meteorologists say a potential hurricane is heading toward them and the rest of the island chain. The governor on Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, proclaimed an emergency to help the state respond to the storm. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows geologists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory surveying the lava flow from the June 27th flow from the Kilauea volcano in Pahoa, Hawaii, Sept. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the leading tip of the flow, which was moving through thick forest, from the June 27th flow from the Kilauea volcano passing near the Kaohe Homesteads in Pahoa, Hawaii. On Wednesday, the lava had advanced about 350 yards from the previous day within a vacant lot in the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision. Officials were hopeful the flow would bypass homes. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
This Aug. 12, 2014 photo released by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a fluid lava stream within the main tube of the June 27 lava flow from the Kilauea volcano Pahoa, Hawaii. The June 27 lava flow, named for the date it began erupting from a new vent, isn't an immediate threat to homes or structures downhill of the flow, but could become one in weeks or months if it continues to advance, the U.S. Geographical Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)
In this photograph taken on October 25, 2014, a photographer runs as Mount Sinabung volcano erupts with ash clouds, as seen from Karo District on Sumatra island. Super heated lava and giant ash clouds reaching two kilometers into the air spewed from the crater of Mount Sinabung volcano threatening villages during its recent series of eruptions. Sinabung began erupting on September 2013 and in February 2014 an eruption killed about 17 people while more than 33,000 residents were forced to flee their homes. AFP PHOTO / Sutanta ADITYA (Photo credit should read SUTANTA ADITYA/AFP/Getty Images)
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HONOLULU (AP) - As slow-moving lava approached a cemetery in a rural Hawaii town, Aiko Sato placed flowers at the headstone of the family plot she's tended to over the years, thinking it would be the last time she would see it.

"I made peace with myself," Sato said Monday of visiting the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery on Oct. 23. A few days later, when lava smothered part of the cemetery the family believed the headstone was covered.

But a photo taken Oct. 28 by a scientist documenting the lava's progress showed the headstone engraved with the Sato name standing in a sea of black lava.

"I feel like it's a miracle," Sato, 63, said. "I know subsequent breakouts could cover the grave but at least I know it survived like a first round."

The lava's flow front stalled over the weekend and on Monday morning remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, which goes through downtown. A breakout of the flow remained about 100 yards from a house. Residents in the area have left or are preparing to leave.

Sato's aunt, Eiko Kajiyama, 83, said she was heartbroken when she heard lava covered the cemetery. When she got the photo from the scientist, she hugged and thanked him, she recalled.

The Hawaii Volcano Observatory wouldn't normally release such photos out of respect for the family of the deceased but provided the Sato family with a copy after a chance encounter between the family and an observatory scientist, observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb said in a statement.

"During their conversation, the scientist recalled that he had just seen the family headstone the night before and was able to provide information about its status," the statement said. "Days later, while looking through HVO's photos, he realized that this particular image showed the Sato headstone and offered to provide a copy to the family."

Kajiyama said it feels like Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, spared the headstone. "We're so thankful we know the tomb is still there." Her sister and brother, who died as infants, are buried there, along with the urns of her parents.

Kajiyama knows a breakout of the flow could later cover the cemetery. And while her home is not in the lava's path, she bracing for the possibility it could reach her house. "I'm just waiting day by day," she said. "With the lava, you don't know what's happening."

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