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Smoke from lava prompts air quality concerns

    The June 27th lava flow continued its march on the Pahoa Waste facility on Wednesday.

PAHOA » The front of the lava flow from Kilauea Volcano threatening Pahoa remained stalled Thursday as officials monitored active breakouts and air quality.

At a morning briefing, Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said the state Department of Health has set up air quality monitoring systems at two schools in the Puna district and a third in Leilani Estates. Air quality data, based on 24-hour averages tallied at the sites, will be made available to the public online.

Smoke conditions were moderate to heavy, with a light south wind blowing lava-fueled smoke north-northeast toward Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park, Keaau and Hilo. Residents downwind with respiratory problems were advised to take precautions and remain indoors, officials said.

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

Civil Defense officials said Thursday that the June 27 lava flow posed no immediate threat to homes and other structures. However, officials continued to monitor three active breakout flows.

One is in the area of the cemetery below Apaa Street. Another, situated above Apaa Street and the closed Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station, advanced at least 15 yards Thursday and continued to burn asphalt and fill a driveway behind the facility. The flow pushed past the station’s surrounding fence Tuesday and stalled upon reaching the asphalt.

A third breakout about 0.2 mile above Apaa Street, which at one point moved 225 yards over a 24-hour period, slowed Thursday. It has advanced about 50 to 75 yards since Wednesday.

If that breakout continues at its current rate and direction, it could 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 above the transfer station that is widening and inflating at the same time, not uncommon to pahoehoe lava flows.

Officials also were fitting a water well near Apaa Street with protective barriers in order to help safeguard water service should lava reach the site.

County officials went door to door this week to update residents living near the lava flow on its status. No evacuation was ordered.

The county also reopened Post Office Road, which leads to Pahoa Village Road from Highway 130, to two-way traffic Thursday. On Oct. 27 the county had made it one-way leading out of town.

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.

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