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Lava sets 300-acre fire near stalled flow front

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    The leading edge of the north-northeast advancing lobe of the Kilauea lava flow crossed a firebreak, and a small brush fire was active along the flow margin.
    An aerial of Kilauea.

PAHOA, Hawaii » The Hawaii County Fire Department on Wednesday contained a lava-sparked brush fire burning near the stalled lava flow front in Pahoa.

The blaze, which covered about 300 acres, ignited at about 1 p.m. Tuesday west of Highway 130, about 1.5 miles from the Ainaloa subdivision, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said. The fire still had hot spots and smoldering activity, and had yet to be extinguished Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the flow front and its south margin breakout have been stalled since Friday about a half-mile from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road. However, surface activity and widening was noted about 300 yards upslope of that area.

Two breakout areas about 1 to 1.5 miles upslope of the stalled flow front had moved about 20 yards since Monday.

Smoke and vog conditions were heavy Wednesday, with wind blowing northeast over areas of lower Puna and Hilo on the east side of Hawaii island.

Before the lava flow slowed and stalled, it was on course to reach the highway’s intersection with Pahoa Village Road and nearby Pahoa Marketplace during the Christmas holiday. In response, several businesses in the lower Puna area, including a gas station, grocery store and a Longs Drugs, shut down as a precaution.

Since the Kilauea Volcano lava reached the Pahoa area in October, it has crossed a street, flowed into a Buddhist cemetery, destroyed multiple structures, burned a house and penetrated the fence line of the Pahoa Recycling and Transfer Station.

Public viewing of the lava flow is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the transfer station. The viewing area will close Feb. 1 while county officials begin to assess the damage to the facility caused by the so-called June 27 lava flow.

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