Evacuation Notice for Extremely Fast-moving Lava in Hawaii
HILO, HAWAII – May 31, 2018
“If you were walking fast, the lava was moving that speed,” Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim, said Monday morning at Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.
Hawaii County Civil Defense warns anyone in the area from Pomaikai Street east to leave the area immediately. Lava from Kilauea volcano destroyed ten homes Sunday night in Leilani Estates, and a fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow from fissure No. 8, is moving toward Nohea, and Kupono streets, north of Leilani Street, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is reporting.
This eruption from Fissure 8 continued to feed a lava flow that moved downslope along Highway 132. Advance lava flow rates accelerated late Tuesday and early Wednesday, forcing evacuations as emergency responders have become worried residents could be painted into a corner on the east side of the Big Island. Residents in Kapoho -- including Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland -- have been advised to evacuate, according to a Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency message.
Personnel from the Hawaii Fire Department, state Department of Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, county Department of Public Works, and the Hawaii National Guard were involved in the evacuation of residents from the affected portion of the subdivision.
Lava also covered a second well as Puna Geothermal Venture, production well KS-5. Well KS-6 was covered late Sunday afternoon.
Snyder said there was no release of hydrogen sulfide gas at the geothermal power plant, which has been taken offline due to the lava emergency.
“Gas monitors are key to our public warning system … so the Department of Health is making sure our gas monitor sites are up and running at numerous occasions.”
Those in areas with high sulfur dioxide levels are advised to be prepared to leave with little or no notice. N-95 masks that are being distributed are for ash particles and do not protect wearers from gases or vapors, including SO2.
Civil Defense also warns that ash and vog can decrease visibility for drivers. Vog is a haze created when sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust. And in addition to volcanic particles that can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation, residents were warned to be on the lookout for Pele's hair, a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of fire. Pele's hair is sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers. Pahoa residents reported seeing it fall Monday night.
"Avoid touching it or getting it in your eyes," the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said. "It can cause injury to eyes and lungs if breathed in."