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Pahoa Village Road reopens as lava threat eases

  • HAWAII NATIONAL GUARD
    Senior Airman Rory Valle
  • COURTESY HAWAII COUNTY
    2014 November 10 CTY - VIDEO SCREEN GRAB, The first home to fall victim in Pahoa of the June 27th lava flow. PHOTO COURTESY OF COUNTY OF HAWAII.
  • COURTESY COUNTY OF HAWAII
    2014 November 15 - CTY - Driving along south side of Apaa St. On left are HELCO fortified power poles. Courtesy County of Hawaii Puna Kilauea Pahoa lava flow Hawaii Electric Light Company electricity lines
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Pahoa Village Road reopened at noon Wednesday as lava has stopped flowing near the front of the flow and Hawaiian Electric Light Co. crews removed cinder and other materials installed to protect its utility poles from lava.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials asked motorists to drive with caution because some utility pole protection materials remain in place.

Motorists are also asked not to stop or park along the road or block driveways to view the stalled lava flow.

"The safety of all motorists and pedestrians depends on everyone’s cooperation and assistance. Please respect the privacy of the area residents and do not trespass on private property to view the lava flow," Civil Defense officials said in a message posted on the county website.

Police and National Guard personnel are remaining in the area to keep traffic flowing, officials said.

A section of Pahoa Village Road between Apaa Street and Post Office Road had been closed since lava crossed Apaa Street last month.

Lava came within 500 feet of the road before stalling.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists conducted a thermal survey of the front of the stalled flow on Monday and found no signs of hot spots, suggesting the lava is "dying off" and cooling, said Mike Poland, an observatory geologist.

"That doesn’t mean it can’t be reoccupied, because the tube system does exist, but there’s no active lava in that lower section," Poland said.

An overflight Wednesday morning of the 13-mile long lava flow from Puu Oo vent showed active lava breakouts about 3.2 miles upslope of Apaa Street. But the current activity does not pose an immediate threat to Pahoa, Big Island Civil Defense officials said. The breakout advanced about 250  yards along the north and west margins of the earlier flow between Monday and Tuesday afternoons, observatory scientists said.

Since the new breakout started on Nov. 19, lava has stopped flowing below the breakout, which is near an underground crack system, next to an abandoned geothermal well site. Since Nov. 19, the lava from the breakout advanced about 1 mile, scientists said.

Smaller lava breakouts were also active between 2 to 3 miles below Puu Oo.

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