Lava from one of the world’s most active volcanoes has been advancing at a slower pace the past few days and is now moving parallel to a sparsely populated subdivision on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Lava from Kilauea volcano was still at least a mile from any homes in Kaohe Homesteads, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said.
Oliveira took a helicopter flight over the area Monday and saw the lava had crept about 150 yards from the previous day. It’s moving north for now but could still stop or change directions.
“It’s been doing that for the last several days,” he said of its northern pull. Prior to Friday, it was going northeast toward the subdivision.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has warned the lava could reach the subdivision in a matter of days.
Oliveira said he didn’t anticipate issuing an evacuation order Monday. But residents should be prepared because it’s difficult to predict the lava’s movement. It was also raining over the flow site, he noted, which meant there wasn’t a wildfire threat.
“That’s good for today,” he said. “But it doesn’t get us out of any potential threat down the road. It just means it’s going to be a very slow process.”
The lava warning has created an “edgy” mood in Puna, the rural region on the southeast side of the Big Island that is at risk from the lava, said Bill Parecki, a real estate agent who has lived in the area for 42 years. The area is still recovering from the damage from a tropical storm about a month ago.
“Everybody’s a little concerned,” he said. “Everybody’s a little worried. We just have to see where the lava goes. There’s no control. It’s Mother Nature.”
A big concern is lava crossing roads and blocking Puna off from the rest of the island, or becoming “lava-locked,” he said.
Business has been quiet since Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall over the region last month, said Mary Bicknell, owner of Big Island Book Buyers, a bookstore in downtown Pahoa.
“We’re always watching it, but we’re not usually threatened by it,” she said of the lava.
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