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Lava’s advance slows; new breakout observed

    Breakouts (white and yellow areas) were active at the leading edge of the lava flow

Lava advanced about 60 yards since Thursday toward Pahoa and a new finger of lava broke out, just upslope of the flow front, Hawaii County Civil Defense said after an overflight of the area Friday.

The pace of the lava has slowed since earlier in the week. The flow moved about 65 yards on Thursday. Up until Wednesday, the lava had been advancing at an average rate of 130 yards a day.

The flow has moved east of the tree line and was in an area of lighter vegetation on Friday.

The area is mostly uluhe ferns, which means there’s a greater risk of a fire starting because the ferns create a canopy that keeps the vegetation underneath dry, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira.

“You can have dry material underneath, and even while it’s green, it burns,” he told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.

Oliveira said he’s hopeful there’s enough moisture so the lava doesn’t spark any brush fires. Officials will keep an eye on it, he said.

The area sits on privately owned land with road access, which will allow firefighters to respond should a brush fire ignite.

Another narrow finger of lava was seen about 30 yards behind the leading edge of the flow.

The lava is not an immediate threat to homes and no evacuations have been ordered.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists estimate the lava could reach Apaa Street on the outskirts of Pahoa, about .9 miles from the flow front, in about two weeks.

This forecast may change, however.

“The lava flow advancement rate is changing week by week and day by day, it’s important for everyone to keep abreast of what the advance rate is day by day,” said Steve Brantley, the acting scientist-in-charge of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

The lava flow started its course toward Hawaii island’s Pahoa town from Kilauea Volcano’s Puu Oo vent on June 27.

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