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Hawaii News

Lava flow moves 400 yards but is predicted to slow down

    A video screen grab taken during a flyover Tuesday shows the large breakout from the June 27 lava flow burning forest near Pahoa. The flow is still about 3 miles from the nearest road.

The new lava flow front above Pahoa advanced an additional 400 yards Tuesday, but scientists expect the flow to slow over the next few days as it approaches less-steep terrain and the amount of lava feeding the flow lessens.

An overflight Tuesday morning showed the flow was about 2.7 miles from the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130, near the Pahoa Marketplace.

Meanwhile, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources has arrested two guides for allegedly illegally taking people on tours to see lava.

The department said Tuesday the guides entered forest reserves that were closed. They also allegedly engaged in illegal commercial activities on state-managed land. The agency says an undercover operation led to Monday’s arrest of a 50-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman.

The two were charged with four misdemeanor offenses including conducting illegal commercial activities within a forest reserve and entering a closed area within a natural area reserve. Department Director William Aila says the agency will prosecute trespassers who place officers and emergency personnel at increased risk. Entering closed lands carries a $5,000 fine.

The new flow front is taking a different north-northeast path from the previous flow, which stalled less than 500 yards from Pahoa Village Road.

The lava is a little more than a half-mile away from a point where several steep descent lines nearly converge, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists said. Geologists said it’s hard to predict where the lava will go until it reaches that point.

Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oli­veira said that if the flow continues on its steepest-descending path, it could threaten the area where the Pahoa Marketplace shopping center is on Pahoa Village Road near Highway 130.

Another path would take the lava east toward the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision. "All of the area downslope from Paradise Park through Pahoa is potentially impacted by these flow lines," said Mike Poland, a Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist.

The lava flow that broke off from the previous flow near the abandoned geothermal well has been moving at an average rate of about 440 yards a day, observatory scientists said.

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