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County considers bridge over lava as flow slows

    Several skylights provided views into the lava tube Wednesday
    This is a view of the flow looking northeast on Wednesday. Pahoa can be seen near the top of the photograph, and is about 2.1 miles from the stalled flow front.
    This comparison of a photograph with a corresponding thermal image shows a typical lobe of p?hoehoe on the June 27th lava flow. The highest surface temperatures in this image are just under 900 Celsius (1650 F), but if one measured the temperature of the lava beneath the thin crust it would be close to 1140 Celsius (2080 F).
    The thermal image on the right provides a different view of the flow front, and clearly shows the scattered breakouts in this area.
    This image taken Wednesday shows the stalled front of the lava flow and a breakout upslope of the front on the north edge of the flow. A burn scar from a brush fire triggered by the lava this weekend covers much of the lower portion of the photograph.

The pause in the progress of lava toward Pahoa continued for a fourth day, amid signs the volume of lava from the volcano has lessened.

An overflight of the lava again showed little activity at the front of the flow, about 1.4 miles upslope from Apaa Street on the outskirts of Pahoa.

The lava has not advanced significantly since Friday.

But a breakout flow, upslope of the front, advanced about 70 yards since Wednesday to the northeast.

Scientists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said other breakout flows are active along the flow from Pu’u ‘O’o crater, the source of the lava.

An overflight Wednesday showed that while lava is actively moving through a tube from Pu’u ‘O’o, "the volume of lava appeared lower than documented last week," scientists said in Thursday’s Kilauea update.

Meanwhile, officials on Hawaii’s Big Island are asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help with solutions for the possibility of lava covering a major highway. 

Hawaii County officials say they are asking whether something could be constructed — possibly a temporary span over the flowing lava. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Thursday the county also is looking at the possibility of removing a portion of the highway before the lava arrives, which is estimated to be weeks or more away. 

Scientists began warning the public of the approaching lava from Kilauea volcano about a month ago. 

Officials worry that if lava covers Highway 130, residents in the Puna district will be cut off from the rest of island. 

Workers have been preparing two defunct roads to be used as alternate routes. Civil Defense said the electricity company is installing power poles on the two alternate roads. There also are plans to open a path through a nearly 8-mile stretch of Chain of Craters Road that has been covered by lava in the past.

Removing a portion of Highway 130 unlikely would affect the lava’s direction but would prevent it from pooling along the road. County officials say they do not want to divert the lava because doing so would simply threaten other communities.

While no evacuations have been ordered, some residents are deciding whether to relocate.

Rob and Tia Yagi said they found a house to rent in Hilo, but still will have to pay the mortgage on their Puna home. With a 2-month-old son they don’t want to take any chances. They’re not worried about losing their home to the lava, Tia Yagi said.

Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, "can have all she wants as long as I have my family," she said.

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