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Malama Market Pahoa to be shuttered as lava flow nears

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    A Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist uses a handheld GPS unit to mark the lava flow Friday. The flow field map is updated by taking a series of GPS points like this around the leading portion of the flow. Courtesy USGS.

With lava flow expected to reach a shopping center and gas station in seven to 10 days, Malama Market Pahoa is now putting in place plans to evacuate and close a grocery store.  

The store will begin removing equipment on Tuesday. Malama Market will be shuttered after it closes at 6 p.m. on Thursday.

The 10,000 square foot, locally-owned Malama Market Pahoa has been serving the community since March 2005. It is one of five Malama Market stores in Hawaii, with the others in Makakilo and Haleiwa on Oahu, and Ocean View and Honoka’a on Hawaii island. 

Malama Market is owned by The Kalama Beach Corporation, one of several retail entities of the Sullivan Family of Companies.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Monday the lava is about 1 mile from the shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. The shopping center also contains a hardware store and pharmacy.

Oliveira says the gas station would sell its remaining fuel and pump out what’s leftover if it has to evacuate. It would then fill its tanks with water and firefighting foam.

In October, the lava flow from Hawaii island’s Kilauea volcano stalled just before Pahoa’s main road. It later started flowing from a different spot.

Lava flow, which started on June 27, has been threatening Pahoa town, which has a population of about 900, for months. In October, it burned a house and covered part of a cemetery but stalled just before hitting Pahoa’s main road. 

The lava could still cross the town’s main road and a highway, which would make it more difficult for residents of Pahoa and the broader community of Puna to get to other parts of the island. 

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