Lava reaches Kaohe

The lava flow approaching Pahoa advanced about 300 yards into the northwest section of Kaohe Homesteads on Monday.

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The lava flow approaching Pahoa advanced about 300 yards into the northwest section of Kaohe Homesteads on Monday.

The flow was advancing in a northeast direction, and at an average rate of about 240 yards per day since Friday, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Kevin Dayton, county spokesman, said the flow entered a vacant state-owned lot and was advancing parallel to roads in the subdivision. Nearby lots are also vacant, and no residential structures are considered threatened at this time.

An evacuation has not been ordered for the neighborhood, consisting of about 30 to 40 homes on farm lots.

The next community meeting regarding the flow will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Pahoa High School cafeteria.

The flow was also about 2 miles from Apaa Road, also known as Dump Road, and 2.7 miles from Pahoa Village Road on Monday afternoon, according to HVO.

It was about 150 yards wide at its farthest point and up to 600 yards wide near the boundary of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve and Kaohe, said Janet Babb, HVO geologist.

A lava tube is transporting between 55,000 and 73,000 gallons of lava per minute to the flow from Pu‘u ‘O‘o, geologists said last week.

HVO estimates the flow could reach Pahoa Village Road within 20 days and Apaa Road within 15 days.

Previously, geologists estimated the flow could reach Pahoa Village Road between Sept. 24 and 26. But the flow has slowed since a week ago, when it was advancing 460 yards per day.

Geologists have said the flow would slow and widen as it reached less steep terrain.

The county is clearing alternate routes on Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road should lava cross Highway 130, the lifeline for lower Puna.

Railroad Avenue is planned to be open from Nanawale Estates through Hawaiian Paradise Park by Sept. 24, Dayton said.

The road will be two lanes with packed gravel between subdivisions.

Government Beach Road, which will be one lane with turnouts, will be available about a week later, Dayton said.

A highway closure would affect areas south/southeast of HPP and Ainaloa. That part of Puna had a population of about 11,000 as of 2010, according to the U.S. Census.

The census estimated 945 people lived in Pahoa, which appears to be in the flow’s path, at that time. Another 4,280 lived in the Hawaiian Beaches/Shores community, which is downhill from the flow and potentially threatened.

Representatives of Longs Drugs, Malama Market and Island Naturals said no decisions have been made yet regarding closure of their stores in Pahoa in advance of the lava’s arrival.

Dayton said the county has set up an operation center in response to the lava flow at Pahoa Community Center. Residents can go there for information.

The Puna Community Medical Center might relocate some of its operations to the community center, said Dan Domizio, clinical programs director. He noted both locations could be threatened by the lava flow, and the medical center is also looking for another spot to continue providing medical services.

Bay Clinic was considering relocating its Pahoa facilities to its Keaau location, CEO Harold Wallace said Friday. Use of trailers is also being considered.

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For daily updates, visit http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/ or http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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