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Lava stalls 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY / HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
    On Friday the tip of the lava flow was stalled about 170 yards from Pahoa Village Road. A few small toes of pasty lava continued to leak from the sides of the flow upslope from the front. A more vigorous flow was burning through forest along the north side of the stalled front just below Pahoa cemetery. This might develop into a new front. Other breakouts even farther upslope were also moving through vegetation and producing smoke plumes.
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The front of a lava flow threatening Pahoa Town was creeping along at a rate of "inches per hour" but more breakouts are occurring farther back that, nevertheless, pose no immediate threat to any homes or structures, the head of Hawaii County Civil Defense said Saturday.

One finger from the flow from Kilauea Volcano seems to have stalled 100 feet from a two-story rental home that has been at risk since Monday, said Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense administrator.

But a new, active breakout remained about 100 yards from the house, Oliveira said.

The flow remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, Pahoa’s main street around 8 a.m., Civil Defense officials said.

"All activity along the front has been limited to breakouts along the margins or sides of the flow as well as on the flow surface," which present no immediate threat to area residents, according to Saturday morning’s update from Civil Defense.

However, residents in the flow path have been placed on an evacuation advisory and told they may need to be ready to evacuate. 

Pahoa Village Road between Apaa Street and the Post Office Road remains closed and limited to area residents only. 

Following the arrest of two local residents Thursday night for investigation of criminally trespassing beyond police barricades to allegedly collect lava, police are investigating a report that a man also was in the area Friday posing as a government official, Oliveira said.

A woman who lives inside the barricades designed to keep non-residents out reported that a man with a clipboard showed up at her home Friday afternoon and wanted to inspect her property, Oliveira said.  

The man "knocked on her door and was basically stating he was from some government agency and was there to conduct some damage assessment," Oliveira said. "We are going to be watching this carefully."  

Any officials in the area will have government identification and will be driving government vehicles, he said.

Residents who are suspicious should ask for government identification, Oliveira said.

One of the many questions about the man with the clipboard, Oliveira said, is "how would they get through the road blocks?"

Meanwhile, Civil Defense officials later Saturday plan to issue minimum height restrictions for private helicopters being hired by media outlets to film and photograph the flow in the lava area. Only media flights cleared by Civil Defense are allowed into the area, but there are currently no minimum altitude limits, Oliveira said.

With no flight restrictions in place this week for the media helicopters, Oliveira said, the pilots sometimes "bring it down right off the deck. There’s no real restriction."

Residents and workers on the ground are at risk — and prop wash from the helicopters could whip up fires from the lava, Oliveira said.

"We’ll likely set a minimum ceiling to protect the people on the ground," he said.

Hawaii County police said Ruth Crawford, 65, of Ainaloa and Stephen Koch, 59, of Nanawale were arrested Thursday night after an officer saw them "facing the flow within 5 feet of the lava and taking pictures."

They were in possession of two golf clubs that had a ball of hardened lava on the end.

They posted bail of $250 each and could face additional charges for allegedly committing a crime during a state of emergency.

Blaine Faris IIII, 33, of Honomu, also was arrested Thursday night and charged with burglary during an emergency declaration for a break-in in the Nanawale Estates subdivision. The break-in occurred Oct. 19 at a home on Kehau Road, where a car and other items were stolen.

Faris was charged with unauthorized control of a propelled vehicle and burglary of a dwelling during an emergency declaration, which enhances the burglary from a Class B felony to a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison with no possibility of probation.

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