A tour guide died Thursday morning while on a guided hiking tour near a lava flow in the Kalapana lava viewing area, the Hawaii County Fire Department said.
Rain created a steam cloud that quickly surrounded the group of four people and affected their breathing and visibility along Kalapana Chain of Craters Road around 8 a.m., fire officials said.
The group was overcome by the noxious steam cloud on an open lava field, the fire department said. Three managed to escape to a safe area, but a fire helicopter crew found the guide unconscious.
“While on their tour, it rained, which created a noxious steam cloud that quickly surrounded them; affecting their vision and breathing,” the fire department said.
“The guide succumbed to the noxious effects of the cloud, while the other three people escaped,” fire officials wrote in an incident report.
Police identified the victim today as 51-year-old Sean King of Pahoa.
The fire department got the call at 8:15 a.m. and the first unit was on scene at 9:01 a.m. in the area of Royal Gardens subdivision and the Chain of Craters Road.
Chopper 1 airlifted King to a waiting ambulance crew, which determined he had died.
Choppers 1 and 2 airlifted the three others, who received minor injuries, to safety.
Firefighters did not provide any other information about the male tour guide.