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Hawaii volcano lava prompts evacuation concerns

The lava flow from the Kilauea volcano crossed Apa’a Street/Cemetery Road near Pahoa, Hawaii.US Geological Survey via Reuters

HONOLULU — Dozens of residents in a rural area of Hawaii have been placed on alert as flowing lava from an erupting volcano advances.

Authorities on Sunday said lava flow in Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii had advanced about 250 yards since Saturday morning. The flow front had entered a cemetery and was about a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the town’s main street.

Residents in the Kilauea volcano flow path, in the mostly rural region of Puna, were told to complete all necessary preparations by Tuesday for a possible evacuation.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says the future advance rate is likely to continue fluctuating, making it difficult to forecast arrival times.

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Officials were going door to door to about 50 homes in Pahoa to keep residents informed of the lava’s movement. The lava flow now threatening Pahoa, the largest town in Puna district, began in June.

The county will issue a mandatory evacuation order if the flow begins advancing at such a rate that it would be difficult for people to move out of the way with little notice, said Darryl Oliveira, the director of civil defense for Hawaii County. The presence of hazardous materials — like a pile of tires or a stockpile of chemicals — in the flow’s path would also trigger a mandatory evacuation order, he said.

Associated Press