UPDATE: 7:15 a.m.
A big explosion at Halemaumau Crater at 6:30 a.m. today shot an ash cloud up to nearly 15,000 feet.
The lofty ash expulsion follows an earlier explosion at 4:30 a.m. today that lofted ash up to 12,000 feet, according to Robert Ballard, science and operations officer at the National Weather Service in Honolulu.
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Lava from Sunday night’s outbreak from fissure 8 was about 160 feet from crossing Pohoiki Road as of 4 a.m. today, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory officials.
“High rates of earthquakes are occurring at the summit as deflation there continues,” the agency said in a tweet.
Volcanic gas emissions remain “very high” from the fissure eruptions, HVO said. Widespread vog is expected on Hawaii island today along with weak variable winds.
SUNDAY, MAY 27
Hawaii County Civil Defense officials have advised Leilani Estates residents on Nohea and Luana streets, between Leilani Avenue and Kahukai Street, and on Kupono Street, between Malama Street and Leilani, to evacuate immediately due to fast-moving lava from fissure 7.
Shelters are open at the Pahoa and Keaau community centers and at the Sure Foundation Church, they said Sunday night.
In addition, lava has covered at least one capped well at the Puna Geothermal Venture plant.
The well was plugged in anticipation of the lava flow, and a second well 100 feet away has also been secured, according to Civil Defense. The plugs protect against the release of gas that could turn toxic when mixed with lava.
David Mace, a spokesman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said safety precautions went into effect before the breach. “I think it’s safe to say authorities have been concerned about the flow of lava onto the plant property since the eruption started,” he told the Associated Press.
Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada’s Ormat Technologies, was shut down shortly after Kilauea began spewing lava on May 3.
HILO >> Gov. David Ige announced this afternoon that lava on Hawaii island is expected to cover a few Puna Geothermal Venture wells within several hours.
Advancing lava that had been moving toward the deactivated wells Saturday eased up this morning but then picked up around midday. As of about 3 p.m. the lava was estimated to be within just a few feet of the first of three production wells, each of which are about 100 feet apart.
Ige said safety preparations to quench the wells, essentially plugging them deep below the surfact and sealing valves designed to withstand the heat from lava are expected to prevent any release of dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas.
Michael Kaleikini, PGV’s director of Hawaii affairs, said he is exponentially more confident that the wells are safe. He said the mitigation work, which also includes removing above-ground equipment on the wells and putting a layer of cinder into a pit that leads to each well, is something that the company does for maintenance. He also said it may be possible to reactivate the wells after the lava event is done even if the wells are all covered by lava.
The plant typically generates 25 percent of the electricity for Hawaii island.
Ige said there is constant monitoring for hydrogen sulfide gas, and if any were detected Hawaii County Civil Defense will put out an immediate alert using sirens, radio and going door to door to notify any residents in an affected area.
Ige though emphasized that a task force has been studying the situation and members do not believe that there will be any negative consequences to health and safety given the steps that have been taken.
Star-Advertiser reporter Andrew Gomes and the Associated Press contributed to this report.