Lava Nears Vacant Lots in Hawaii Subdivision

By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER | September 15, 2014

Lava from one of the world’s most active volcanos soon could reach three vacant lots in a rural subdivision on Hawaii’s Big Island, but officials are hopeful homes will be spared.

Based on the lava’s movement of about 200 to 300 yards a day, the flow from Kilauea volcano was expected to reach the lots in Kaohe Homesteads in coming days, Hawaii County spokesman Kevin Dayton said.

The large lot closest to the flow is owned by the state, while the other two are privately owned, he said.

“The fact that it’s veering somewhat to the north as opposed to the east is a hopeful sign,” Dayton said.

While no evacuations have been ordered, residents were asked to remain on alert and be prepared for possible changes in the lava’s course.

The slow-moving molten rock could spread and slow even further in coming days as it moves from a steeper grade to more level land, Dayton said.

On Friday, the lava was about 3 miles from Pahoa Village Road and 3.5 miles from Highway 130, Dayton said. Highway 130 is a lifeline for the mostly rural Puna district, which would be cut off from the rest of the island if lava crosses the busy two-lane highway.

In preparation for that possibility, work was to continue into the weekend and next week to turn little-used, defunct roads into alternate routes.

Lava could reach the highway within weeks.

State and county officials plan to survey one of the unpaved roads for any archaeological or cultural elements that need to be preserved, Dayton said.

The flow has snaked more than 10 miles through thick forest since it first was observed emerging from a vent in late June. The state announced Friday that Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve would be closed until further notice because of dangers from the flow.

It has engulfed trees and other vegetation in its path, sending up large smoke plumes, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a Friday update. However, rainfall in the area has prevented fires from spreading from the lava, officials said.

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