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Path still guesswork as lava hits flat area

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    This image, acquired Monday by the WorldView 2 satellite, shows the activity in the downslope portion of the June 27th lava flow. The portion of the June 27th lava flow that entered P?hoa in October is inactive, but a new lobe is advancing downslope a short distance west of the earlier flow. The leading tip of the new lobe is evident by its long smoke plume, caused by vegetation burning. A Civil Defense overflight Tuesday morning showed that this active tip continues to move towards the northeast.

PAHOA » The path the leading edge of lava flow from Kilauea Volcano will take as it continues to ooze toward a marketplace in Pahoa remains uncertain.

According to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, that edge is about 2.4 miles above the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Highway 130, near the area’s main grocery store.

The flow has reached a flat stretch of terrain, and while it slowly moves through the area, its future path cannot be mapped, observatory scientists report.

While the breakout moved 400 yards on both Wednesday and Thursday, it slowed Friday, advancing about 145 yards, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oli­veira.

The front is about 50 yards wide and heading north-northeast, and is about 300 yards from a point where the flow could go one way or another, Oli­veira said. If it takes one path, it will likely proceed toward a grocery store, a gas station and numerous businesses. If it takes another path, it could threaten nearby subdivisions.

Pahoa Marketplace business owners report they would need three to seven days to evacuate, Oli­veira said. No evacuation has been ordered yet, and Hawaii County officials say the activity does not pose an immediate threat.

Also, the state Department of Health is operating three air-monitoring stations in the Pahoa and Leilani estates area that detect the presence of lava-related airborne particles. That information can be viewed online at emdweb.

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