Authorities issue another evacuation notice for fast-moving lava in Leilani Estates

  • U.S. Geological Survey photo Pahoehoe lava from fissure No. 7 moves west on Leilani Avenue Sunday with a lava fountain in the background. Lava from fissure No. 7, which has since gone dormant, claimed 10 homes and caused officials to go door-to-door to evacuate residents from a portion of Leilani Estates subdivision.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is reporting a fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow from fissure No. 8, moving toward on Nohea and Kupono streets, north of Leilani Street.

There are reports of lava fountains on Moku Street, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense officials, who warn anyone in the area from Pomaikai Street east to leave the area immediately.

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Lava from Kilauea volcano destroyed 10 homes Sunday night in Leilani Estates, as authorities went door-to-door to evacuate residents ahead of a fast-moving flow from fissure No. 7.

Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim, said she doesn’t have an official total of houses and structures destroyed since lava broke ground in Puna’s Lower East Rift Zone on May 3, but an unofficial tally has the total of structures destroyed at 92, 51 of them houses.

Snyder said personnel from the Hawaii Fire Department, state Department of Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, county Department of Public Works, and Hawaii National Guard were involved in the evacuation of residents from the affected portion of the subdivision.

“If you were walking fast, the lava was moving that speed,” Snyder said this morning at Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo. “… Nobody got hurt amid all the evacuations last night. I don’t have numbers of people that were evacuated.”

Residents were evacuated from Nohea and Luana streets between Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Street.

Lava also covered a second well as Puna Geothermal Venture, production well KS-5. Well KS-6 was covered late Sunday afternoon.

Snyder said there was no release of hydrogen sulfide gas at the geothermal power plant, which has been taken offline due to the lava emergency.

“The lava stopped at an out building. Just stopped,” Snyder said.

Snyder said officials are concerned lava might soon inundate Highway 132, the Pahoa-Pohoiki road.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that lava stopped flowing at fissures 6, 7 and 13 sometime overnight, according to Snyder.

“All activity is now at fissures 8 and 24, which is just west of fissure 7 …,” she said. “The flow from 8 is going north.”

Snyder said there was a summit explosion of Kilauea at about 6:30 a.m. today.

“The plume went about 12- to 13,000 feet,” she said.

Snyder said reduced trade winds are causing sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions to “pool over Ocean View and Pahala” in Ka‘u.

“We’re also going to see SO2 emissions going the other way, toward Pahoa, Nanawale, Keaau, and as far north as South Hilo … with some traces toward Hamakua,” she said.

A faint, backyard-grill odor could be detected in Hilo this morning.

Snyder said normal tradewinds are expected to return on Wednesday, “which will push the emissions offshore.”

“Gas monitors are key to our public warning system … so the Department of Health is making sure our gas monitor sites are up and running at numerous occasions.”

Those in areas with high sulfur dioxide levels are advised to be prepared to leave with little or no notice. N-95 masks that are being distributed are for ash particles and do not protect wearers from gases or vapors, including SO2.

Civil Defense also warns that ash and vog can decrease visibility for drivers.

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This story will be updated as needed. See Tuesday’s Tribune-Herald for a complete story.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.