Hawaii town's merchants meet to discuss lava flow

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

PAHOA, Hawaii (AP) — Merchants in a small Hawaii town are meeting with civil defense officials to understand how lava from Kilauea volcano could affect their community and businesses.

A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday in downtown Pahoa, on the Big Island.

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. Scientists issued a warning last week when a lava flow that has been advancing through cracks in the earth for the past few months moved to within a mile of a rural subdivision.

The flow since has slowed and begun moving parallel to the Kaohe Homesteads. But researchers say it could still creep into the subdivision.

Officials also are preparing for the possibility that the lava will cross key roads within weeks, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi told community members Tuesday. This could cut off a large part of the sprawling, mostly rural Puna district from the rest of the Big Island.

The county is planning alternate routes.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said Wednesday the lava flow had advanced 460 yards since the previous morning.

The flow emerged from a vent at Kilauea's Puu Oo crater in late June. Since then, it has traveled nearly 9 miles as the crow flies, or just over 10 miles if its twists and turns are accounted for.

The lava is creeping through thick forest, setting alight trees and generating smoke plumes. It is visible only from the air, unlike previous flows that tourists could watch drop into the ocean from coastal viewing areas.