Lava reaches road, nears ocean

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The lava flow from Kilauea’s Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent crossed the Kalapana emergency route Monday afternoon as it approached the coastline.

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The lava flow from Kilauea’s Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent crossed the Kalapana emergency route Monday afternoon as it approached the coastline.

A Hawaii Volcanoes National Park field crew reported that lava reached the road at 3:20 p.m. Monday, said Janet Babb, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman. At the time, geologists were on their way to the field and had not made their own observations.

The gravel road is closed to vehicle traffic.

Ed Teixeira, Hawaii County interim Civil Defense administrator, said the road there is about 150 meters, or 492 feet, from the ocean.

“It won’t take long,” he said, for lava to dip into the sea.

Teixeira said he expects an increase in people hiking out to see the lava now that it’s easier than ever to access.

But he cautioned the hike along the gravel emergency route is 6 to 8 miles round-trip from a parking area on the Kalapana side.

“Take a lot of water, a lot of water,” Teixeira advised.

Hikers also should be cautious of additional hazards created from lava entering the ocean, including hydrochloric acid, he said.

Between Friday and Monday, the flow had traveled 600 meters, or nearly 2,000 feet.

The flow front is located in the park but the closest vantage point is the county parking area on the Kalapana side, Teixeira said.

The route was cut in 2014 over the former Kalapana-Chain of Craters Road as the “June 27” flow threatened to cross Highway 130 in Pahoa.

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Earlier lava flows from Pu‘u ‘O‘o’s ongoing 33-year eruption previously crossed the Kalapana-Chain of Craters Road, burying it under layers of black rock.

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

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