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State cites lava gawkers who bypass security checkpoints

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    Police officers Tuesday monitored a checkpoint along Highway 132 near Pohoiki Road past Pahoa where the road has been closed due to the lava flow. A couple visiting from New York was recently cited by the DLNR after allegedly walking into an area of intense lava flow, bypassing a security checkpoint on Highway 132.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources is cracking down on lava gawkers who violate closures in disaster areas associated with the current eruption of Kilauea.

Officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) cited a New York City couple Wednesday for loitering and refusal to evacuate during a pending disaster.

The couple allegedly bypassed a security checkpoint on Highway 132 by parking at the closed Lava Tree State Monument and walking into an area of intense lava flow. The couple told officers that a local resident provided them with directions on how to get around the security system.

In another instance, DOCARE officers issued three citations to a boat owner who had tied up a vessel at the closed Pohoiki Boat Ramp and was unable to return it to Wailoa Small Boat Harbor in Hilo.

DLNR reports that the incidents are petty misdemeanors “but can carry higher penalties because they happened during a disaster situation.”

Acting DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said in a statement, “The volcano emergency is an ever-­changing situation and people who ignore closures and warnings from police, fire and civil defense authorities not only put themselves in potentially life-threatening situations, but they are doing the same to our officers and emergency first-responders.”

The incidents are similar to earlier reports from Kauai, where visitors were allegedly hiring boats to take them to vacation rentals where operations are still banned in flood-ravaged Haena and Wainiha.

Hawaii island also has banned vacation rentals in lava-inundated parts of Lower Puna where safety is a concern and the county government wants to focus resources on residents.

Kilauea Lower East Rift Zone Fissures and Flows, May 29 by Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Scribd

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