PAHOA >> The mighty fissure 8 in Leilani Estates continued to make Hawaii island a little bigger Saturday, pumping lava that stayed for the most part in a stream-like channel exiting into the ocean about 8 miles away near the island’s eastern tip.
U.S. Geological Survey and Hawaii County Civil Defense reports said lava overflowed the channel for several hours near the intersection of Highway 132 and Pohoiki Road, though almost none of the overspill extended beyond hardened lava previously laid down since the eruption in Puna’s lower East Rift Zone began May 3 in the middle of the residential subdivision.
The USGS said fountaining from fissure 8 reached as high as about 200 feet Saturday, and there was some minor lava activity from fissures 16 and 18.
Also Saturday, there was an explosive eruption of rock and ash at Kilauea’s summit at 4:50 a.m. that produced a plume expected to possibly blow to the southwest toward Wood Valley, Pahala and Ocean View.
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Because tradewind conditions returned, vog was projected to carry to the south and west sides of the island, while plumes of noxious gas coming out of the ocean around the new Kapoho coastline were pushing those emissions south, farther out over the ocean.
Over the last five weeks, 24 fissures have opened in and near the Leilani Estates community of about 750 homes on lots of at least one acre. An estimated 70 people are still living in the subdivision, and on Saturday thin strands of volcanic glass known as Pele’s hair and other lightweight volcanic glass bits from the lava fountain fell within the area.
Lava from various fissures — and lately from fissure 8 exclusively — has consumed homes in Leilani Estates, the neighboring Lanipuna Gardens and farther east at the Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland subdivisions in Kapoho, where the once-picturesque Kapoho Bay, prized for its tidepools, was filled in.
To date, lava has destroyed more than 600 homes and forced close to 400 people into emergency shelters.
Mayor Harry Kim has set a goal to establish a new community for the displaced. A task force of county, state and federal representatives is charged with the planning. During a Civil Defense meeting Friday, Kim said his goal is to have this project done within a year.
“I swear to you we’re going to do this,” he said, according to county spokeswoman Janet Snyder. “We’re going to make Puna a better place.”