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National Guard troops monitor latest fissures for dangerous gases

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    Media retreated back to safety as U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Milo Kalama measured the sulfur dioxide gas near a fissure on Leilani Ave. located in Leilani Estates.

  • DAN NAKASO / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    Sgt. Milo Kalama speaks to the media about air quality in Leilani Estates on Hawaii island.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Milo Kalama measured the sulfur dioxide gas near fissure 13 on Leilani Ave. at Leilani Estates.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    People were turned away at the first check point to enter Leilani Estates at Pahoa Kalapana Road.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Maryann Marr (left) and Sgt. Milo Kalama prepared to escort journalists at Leilani Ave. where fissure 13 erupted.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / HONOLULU STAR-ADVERTISER

    U.S. Army National Guard Sgt. Maryann Marr briefed journalists along Leilani Ave. where fissure 13 erupted in Leilani Estates.

PAHOA, Hawaii >> A two-person team from the Hawaii and Arizona National Guards monitored air quality this morning at the latest fissure to open up along Leilani Avenue and found no dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide — at least at the time.

As the last 24 hours have shown, the unpredictable, on-going eruption from Kilauea can cause the ground to open up at any moment and send fountains of molten lava spewing into the sky along with noxious steam containing sulfur dioxide and other gases.

Leilani Avenue at Pohoiki Road was far from safe.

A mountain of black lava from Tuesday’s latest outbreak on Leilani Avenue, about 50 yards from Pohoiki Road, left shards of hot, black lava strewn across the street. And steam continued to spew out of the mass. The flow stopped about 20 yards in front of a home, which appeared to be spared.

Fissure No. 13, as it’s now called, erupted at the same spot as a previous outbreak called Fissure No. 5.

Sgt. Milo Kalama of the Hawaii National Guard’s 93rd Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team kept journalists back about 30 yards from the flow while he approached wearing a black, full-face mask.

As his air-monitoring equipment buzzed, Kalama removed his mask and declared the air quality normal.

“You’re getting steam with all kind of particulates, such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide,” said Kalama said. “… Depending on how much wind, it can travel at different distances.”

The National Guard is pairing Guardsmen from Arizona and Hawaii in teams to measure the air quality around Leilani Estates.

Around the corner, on Pohoiki Road, steam poured out of another crack. But Kalama said it’s not an official fissure.

At least not yet.

“It’s not confirmed,” he said, “because it’s super, super new.”

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