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Scientist says no imminent threat from Puna lava

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 9:11 a.m. HST, Aug 29, 2014

HILO >> Pahoa community members are being assured that a lava flow doesn't pose an immediate threat.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-in-Charge Jim Kauahikaua told a packed community meeting Thursday the flow appears to be "weeks to months" from reaching Kaohe homesteads or other neighborhoods south of Pahoa. He said the part of the flow closest to the homes appears to have stalled.

Scientists continue to monitor what's known as the June 27 flow, named for the date is was observed emerging from the flank of Puu Oo on Kilauea Volcano's East Rift Zone.

As of Thursday, the easternmost tip was about 2 miles from the homesteads, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported. The active surface flow was still more than 5 miles away, Kauahikaua said.

"The lava flow continues to be active, although relatively weakly active," he said. It is difficult to predict the speed and direction of the flow, he said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials will call for evacuations if lava appears to be within five days of reaching populated areas.

"While we are cautiously optimistic that this part of the flow is inactive, we will continue to watch it over the coming days," said an eruption update handed out to those who attended the meeting. "Currently, the flow is not posing an immediate threat to area residences and critical infrastructure such as major roadways and highways."

County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the county is preparing to open up alternate roadways, in case movement of the flow indicates it could cross major roadways in Puna.

A handout also included information about how to prepare. Civil Defense officials are providing hourly updates to the island's radio stations to keep residents informed.

Residents that could be impacted from the lava are still reeling from damage in the weeks after Tropical Strom Iselle made landfall over the Puna region.

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