Officials watching lava breakouts

After stalling for more than three days at its front, the June 27 lava flow continued to burn vegetation and consume a macadamia nut orchard along its edges Sunday while keeping its distance from nearby homes.

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After stalling for more than three days at its front, the June 27 lava flow continued to burn vegetation and consume a macadamia nut orchard along its edges Sunday while keeping its distance from nearby homes.

The front remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road Road where it has been cooling and hardening since Thursday.

Mike Poland, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist, told reporters it’s possible that breakouts upslope could merge with the flow’s stalled front and overtake it.

“Certainly, the flow front may have stalled,” he said. “… but the eruption itself has not stopped at all.”

Breakouts were occurring, both makai and mauka of the Apa‘a Street/Cemetery Road area, in addition to within 11 yards of the flow front.

“The lava budget in this eruption is being distributed in many different places,” Poland said.

Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator, said a breakout reached within 25 feet of the fenceline at the Pahoa Transfer Station on Apa‘a Street, but that lobe was relatively quiet Sunday.

Other breakouts upslope also were advancing sluggishly, he said.

Closer to the flow’s front, lava continued to ooze along its edges inside an orchard, consuming more trees in the process.

“He’s been losing a lot of his farm there,” Oliveira said, referring to the property owner.

So far, the flow has not consumed any homes, though it burned a shed and a structure used for cattle last week.

Oliveira said during a conference call with reporters around noon Sunday that lava was not threatening residential structures at that time.

He again asked residents to be mindful of people posing as government officials during this disaster after a woman reported that a man with a clipboard was asking questions about her home within the restricted area, which includes Apa‘a Street and a portion of Pahoa Village Road.

“The key is to ask them for proof of identification or, if not, just call the police,” Oliveira said.

He said the county was working to get a better idea of the population within the restricted area as well as some “hidden homeless that we’re not aware of.”

Poland responded to a question asked many times since geologists began issuing warnings about the flow: When will it stop?

“This eruption is extremely long lived,” he said. “We’re approaching year 32, and we don’t see an indication of this stopping anytime soon.

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“This part may stall and be rerouted if something actually changes at the vent. … We don’t see any indication of that on the way.”

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

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