A rural area in Hawaii County is on alert as molten lava from a nearby volcano continues to push closer. The main road has been closed, and officials are telling people living in the area to prepare to leave at any time.
Dozens of people live in the path of the lava flow, but so far, no evacuations have been ordered. Should an evacuation be ordered, the Red Cross has opened a shelter to help any who are displaced.
Officials have said the lava flow has picked up a bit of speed, and is now moving at about 20 yards an hour.
Residents have had plenty of time to prepare for any potential evacuation. The lava flow threatening the area began back in June. Since then, it has been slowly making its way towards the area.
The main road leading into the area, Pahoa Village Road, has been closed to everyone except local residents. The lava flow is within a half-mile of the road.
Over the weekend, authorities went to every residence to remind people about possible evacuations. Check out the slow moving lava flow in the video below.
The lava flow is coming from the Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously for more than 30 years.
Janet Babb, a geologist and spokeswoman for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, described a series of “unnerving” methane explosions. Decomposing vegetation has produced methane gas that is traveling beneath the surface beyond the lava flow. As the lava flow gets close enough to these methane pockets, they ignite.
Right now, the lava flow is about 300 yards away from the closest house. The first evacuations could come as early today.
“Due to the unpredictability and inconsistency in the flow rate of advancement precautions will be taken to ensure the safety of all residents,” reads a statement from Hawaii County officials.
Image credit: USGS