Lava-related brush fire claims four homes

  • USGS Photo This photo of the western margin of the lava flow at the oceanfront was taken Sunday. The western flow margin did not advance overnight, and remained approximately 0.1 mile from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park this morning.

Four houses were destroyed Saturday by a brush fire along Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.

The houses were in the Halekamahina Road area off Highway 132 near Kapoho, according to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim.

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Snyder said the burning houses were viewed during an overflight by officials.

Those homes haven’t yet made it to the official count of dwellings destroyed by lava or by fires caused by the lava from the current eruption activity, which started May 3, so the official tally remains at 716.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported a magnitude-4.1 earthquake occurred on the south flank of Kilauea shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, felt from Kalapana to Hilo. No damage was reported as a result of the temblor.

Snyder said the channel of lava flowing from fissure No. 8 to the ocean remains active this morning “especially around Ahalanui, but no movement toward Pohoiki.”

The western flow of the lava has entered the county’s Isaac Hale Beach Park, but remains about 500 feet from the state’s Pohoiki boat ramp, which is in the park.

According to Snyder, there were no spillovers from the channel observed during this morning’s overflight “but the channel is inflating out that way, near Pohoiki.”

Winds are light and from the southwest this morning. According to the National Weather Service, showers are likely today and tonight, with thunderstorms also possible after noon.

Snyder said transportation officials are advising motorists to “exercise extreme caution” on Highway 11 near and in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, “especially two-wheeled vehicles, bicycles and motorcycles.”

“The surface is very uneven,” she said. “We’re trying to work out a deal so we can (repair the road) in the national park, but that hasn’t happened yet,” Snyder said. “Meanwhile, the seismic activity (at Kilauea’s summit) is not helping at all.”

“Our highest priority is to keep traffic going through there,” she added.

Snyder said the current count of individuals at the Pahoa and Keaau evacuation shelters is 155.

Starting today, the Disaster Recovery Center, which had been at Keaau High School gym, is now at the Pahoa Community Center.

Hawaii County residents with losses as a result of the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes have through Monday, Aug. 13, to register for disaster assistance with FEMA, which can be done at the DRC, weekdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Registration can also be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.

Disaster assistance can include FEMA grants for temporary housing, home repairs and replacement, as well as low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration. These loans are available to businesses, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters to cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries.

Aug. 13 is also the deadline to file a loan application for physical damages with the SBA. Applicants may apply to the SBA online at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339.

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A community meeting on lava-related issues is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Pahoa High School cafeteria.

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

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