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Hawaii residents still on alert as lava flow slows

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    This image is from a temporary research camera positioned in the observation tower at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, looking SSE.

Kilauea Volcano’s  June 27 lava flow continued to creep slowly northward on Saturday as Hawaii Civil Defense personnel kept close watch for signs of any increased threat to nearby residential areas.

A helicopter survey early Saturday found that the flow had advanced about 50 yards since Friday but very little vegetation was burning and there was no imminent wildfire threat. Civil Defense staff did note plumes of steam emanating from cracks near the front of the flow, suggesting continued movement below the surface.

The surface flow is less than a mile southwest of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. 

The June 27 flow originates from the northeast flank of the Puu Oo cone. In addition to the main body of the flow, smaller breakouts also remain active closer to Puu Oo, creeping into nearby forest and producing smoke plumes.

On Thursday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory elevated its ongoing eruption alert level to an eruption warning due to the flow’s proximity to residential areas. Big Island Mayor Billy Kenoi subsequently declared a state of emergency, effective for 60 days or until further action by his office.

Civil Defense authorities said that as of Saturday the flow did not present an immediate or imminent threat to area communities. However, access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision remains restricted to subdivision residents only and residents in all affected areas are being encouraged to update their emergency plans should an evacuation become necessary.

Meanwhile, Kilauea continued to erupt at its summit and within the East Rift Zone.

Levels at the lava lake located within the summit have recently fluctuated due to spattering and gas release, according to the observatory.

Aerial observation of the Puu Oo area over the last week found small lava ponds within the northeast, southeast and north pits in the crater, as well as a crusted pond surface in the southeast pit. A glow was also visible Friday evening above several outgassing openings in the crater floor, the observatory reported.

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