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Lava flows 'pretty spectacular'

A new flow burns more asphalt as another one empties into the ocean

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 4:24 p.m. HST, Aug 3, 2010

Big Island photographer Leigh Hilbert said the lava flows in the past several days are the biggest he has seen in the 13 years he has been hiking and tracking the Kilauea eruption.

"It was pretty spectacular," he said. "This is the best flow coming down the mountain."

While the lava flow has stopped about 130 feet from the nearest residence at Kalapana Gardens after burning another house, the eruption has continued into the ocean at two locations to the southwest, and two new flows were noticed Sunday.

One of the new lava flows has burned a remaining stretch of asphalt at the intersection of Highways 130 and 137, about a mile from the ocean.

The second new flow has arisen from the ground about a half-mile makai of the intersection.

The lava flow initially advancing close to residences Saturday seems to have stopped.

"It doesn't appear the lava has made any advances forward towards any of the residences from Saturday," Civil Defense official Bill Hanson said.

"That area appears to be cooling down. ... We're keeping our fingers crossed," he said yesterday afternoon.

The lava flow from the Kilauea eruption that began in 1983 destroyed the home of Gary Sleik on July 25 but has stopped short of two others, the closest about 130 feet away.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory spokeswoman Janet Babb said the westernmost entry of lava into the ocean is the most vigorous.

She said the lava, about 1,500 feet wide, is building a delta of new land that continues to grow.

Hanson said while the flow seems to be inflating in some surface areas, it apparently stalled Sunday.

"I think it's run out of juice for the time being," he said.

He said there were about 38 residences in the Kalapana Gardens area, including 20 that were occupied by full-time residents.

Hawaii Civil Defense has scheduled viewing times from 2 to 10 p.m.

A 1990 lava flow destroyed the towns of Kalapana and Kaimu, including scores of houses.

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