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Officials monitoring air quality around Pahoa

    This aerial image shows lava activity around the Pahoa Transfer Station.
    The June 27th lava flow continued its march on the Pahoa Waste facility on Wednesday.
    This photo shows the distal part of the June 27th flow looking toward the southwest on Wednesday. The stalled tip of the flow is barely cut off at the left side of the photo.
    This aerial image shows the stalled flow front with smoke rising from breakouts upslope.
    In this thermal image from Wednesday, the stalled flow front exhibits lower surface temperatures (red, purple colors), as it has been stalled for over a week. Upslope, however, scattered breakouts are active and have much higher surface temperatures (white, yellow colors).
    The June 27th lava flow continued its march on the Pahoa Waste facility on Wednesday. Hawaii County fire fighter and Hawaii Electric Co., HELCO, continued their efforts to protect power lines in the area.
    The June 27th lava flow continued its march on the Pahoa Waste facility on Wednesday.
    The June 27th lava flow continued its march on the Pahoa Waste facility on Wednesday.
    Lava flows continue to encroach on the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery, with the latest activity there coming right up to the edge of the green-roofed shelter on Wednesday.
    What's left of a house which was recently destroyed by lava can be seen just below the center of this Wednesday photo. Lava bypassed the garage, which still stands at the center of the photo. Lava briefly entered the fish pond next to the house, before continuing downslope.

PAHOA >> The front of the lava flow threatening Pahoa remained stalled, as officials monitored active breakouts and air quality. The county also reopened a connecting road to two-way traffic Thursday.

Post Office Road, which leads to Pahoa Village Road from Highway 130, is open to two-way traffic again, which should make it easier to get into Pahoa. The county made Post Office Road one-way, leading out of town, on Oct. 27 for safety reasons and to ensure traffic would flow smoothly, Civil Defense said.

Pahoa Village Road remains closed from Post Office Road to Apaa Street. The stalled lava front is about 480 feet above that section of road.

At a morning briefing Thursday, Civil Defense officials said the Department of Health set up air quality monitoring systems at two schools in the Puna District and a third in Leilani Estates. The data, based on 24-hour averages, will be made available to the public online.

Smoke conditions are moderate to heavy with a light south wind blowing the smoke in a north-northeast direction towards the Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Keaau and Hilo. Residents down wind with respiratory problems should to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors, officials said. 

Forecasters expect southerly winds to continue for the next few days.

Civil Defense officials said Thursday that there is no immediate threat to homes and residents from the lava, but they continue to monitor three active breakout flows.

One breakout is in the area of the cemetery below Apaa Street. Another breakout of lava above Apaa Street, upslope of the closed Pahoa Transfer Station, advanced 15 yards Thursday and continues to burn asphalt and fill a driveway behind the facility.

A third breakout about .2 miles upslope of Apaa Street, that had moved 225 yards over a 24-hour period, has now slowed. It advanced about 50 to 75 yards since Wednesday.

If that breakout continues at its current rate and direction, it may reach Apaa Street in the next few days, officials said.

Weston Thelen, a geophysicist at Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said a ground team investigated a lobe upslope of the transfer station that is widening and inflating same time, which is not uncommon to pahoehoe lava flows.

Meanwhile, officials are working on putting protective barriers around a water well near Apaa Street. If the site is impacted by lava it won’t interrupt service, officials said. 

Wednesday night, county officials went door-to-door to update residents near the lava flow. No evacuation was ordered, officials said. A weekly community meeting is also scheduled for Thursday night at Pahoa High School.

In other news, a 22-year-old Hawaii island man is facing “enhanced penalties” for allegedly trying to break into a 60-year-old Puna woman’s home and vehicle while an emergency declaration for the Puna District is in place.

 Hawaii County Police have charged Sebastian Hernandez, of Kea?au, with unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle and attempted burglary in connection with an incident that occurred Wednesday morning in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision in Puna.

At about 6:50 a.m., the victim reported to police that she had spotted a woman on her property, 3rd Avenue off Kaloli Street, and a man who appeared to be attempting to steal her pickup truck. When she confronted the pair, they fled on foot before officers arrived. Police determined that the man had attempted to break into the house before being confronted by the victim. 

 Police later apprehended the pair on nearby. Hernandez and a 25-year-old Mountain View woman were arrested and taken to the Hilo police cellblock while detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigations Section continued the investigation. The woman was released Wednesday afternoon pending further investigation. 

Hernandez’s attempted burglary charge was enhanced from a class B felony to a class A felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison with no possibility of probation. Hernandez was also charged with contempt of court for an unrelated matter. His bail was set at $12,300.

In early September, when the so-called June 27 lava flow from Kilauea Volcano’s Puu Crater began to approach the district’s Pahoa town, Hawaii County’s mayor, Billy Kenoi, proclaimed a state of emergency through which certain crimes, such as unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle, carry enhanced sentencing.

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