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Officials monitor lava ‘inflation,’ small breakouts

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Pahoehoe lava oozes from the margin lava flow about 405 yardsabove Apaa Street Tuesday.
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The June 27 lava flow from Kilauea was seen approaching Pahoa on Monday in this aerial view.
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2014 September 25 CTY - Chain of Craters Road on the Kalapana side of the Puu Oo lava flow. PHOTO BY DARYL LEE / SPECIAL TO THE HSA
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Small breakouts from an inflating p?hoehoe lobe moves through an orchard Tuesday.

PAHOA, Hawaii >> The lava from Kilauea Volcano continues to flow, but the cooling at its front matched with sluggish upslope breakouts may indicate some relief for Pahoa Village residents.

Inflation and small breakouts continued along the June 27 lava flow, which remained stalled 170 yards from Pahoa Village Road on Wednesday.

Steve Brantley, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory acting scientist-in-charge, said the tip of the flow was relatively cool and was solidifying, and the upper-region breakouts were not advancing in a critical way.

Currently, volcanologists are assessing new breakouts farther upslope that could eventually become the new leading edge, he said.

About 380 yards behind the front, an active stretch of lava 650 yards long is inflating, or filling with fresh lava. In some spots the lava is growing as high as 12 feet.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the system is still active, but the cooling of the front of the flow and the sluggish upslope breakouts allow "the community some time to breathe."

On Wednesday, Public Works Director Warren Lee said the spread of invasive species and possible harm to endangered nene were cited in an environmental review for constructing an emergency access route along a lava-covered section of Chain of Craters Road.

But the concerns will not affect construction, he said.

The review, released Tuesday, says a potential impact is the spread of invasive species, with pests such as little fire ants and coqui frogs possibly hitching rides on vehicles from Puna.

The coqui frog has essentially taken over certain areas on Hawaii island since the 1980s.

Lee said that all construction material will stay in the park and the road will be completed by December.

The public has until Dec. 5 to comment on the review.

Parts of the 19-mile Chain of Craters Road that runs from the summit of Kilauea to sea level were finished Wednesday, he said. Crews have been working from each end to do the rough grading and completed that work. The path is now open, but it’s still not drivable, he said.

Emergency road projects on Railroad Avenue and Government Road have been completed.

Since the lava crossed Apaa Street into Pahoa last month, it overran a Buddhist cemetery, claimed a farmer’s shed, set a stack of tires on fire and ignited an open-air cattle shelter.

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