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Work begins to clear Chain of Craters Road for evacuations

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Chain of Craters Road in Kalapana

Work has begun to reopen Chain of Craters Road for evacuations in case the eruption in lower Puna severs Highway 130.

Excavators are digging through a 0.7-mile section of the road buried by the 61g lava flow in 2016 and 2017.

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The road hugs the coastline and goes through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The road opened in 1965 and has been blocked by lava for 41 of its 53-year existence.

The road was recut in 2014 as an evacuation route when a separate lava flow was threatening Pahoa, only to be partially covered again. Estimates for when the work will be complete range from four days to more than a week.

The latest eruption that started May 3 on Kilauea’s lower East Rift Zone has crossed portions of Pohoiki Road, Highway 132 and Highway 137. Approximately 2,500 people have been displaced, according to Talmadge Magno, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator.

On Wednesday, a flow was threatening the Four Corners area where Highway 132 intersections with Highway 137 and Government Beach Road. A flow crossing that area would isolate residents in the Kapoho Vacationland area.

Residents there were told to evacuate early Wednesday morning.

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Jim Kauahikaua, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist, said Wednesday afternoon the flow was 2.6 miles from Highway 137 and was advancing at a slower pace.

A separate flow was a half-mile from Highway 137 in the vicinity of Ahalanui Park, also known as hot ponds.