Lava Could Cross Pāhoa Village Rd by Sept. 24-26
By Wendy Osher
The state Department of Land and Natural Resources joined the Office of Hawaiian Affairs in announcing the immediate closure of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve on Hawaiʻi Island due to the danger posed by the June 27 lava flow.
The closure went into effect on Friday night, Sept. 12, as crews from the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife worked with Hawaiʻi County crews to build escape roads in Puna.
DLNR chairperson William Aila, Jr. commented in a press release statement saying:
“We join with Hawaii Civil Defense and Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park to warn the public of extreme danger from lava flowing through cracks in Wao Kele O Puna, and Kahaualeʻa Natural Area Reserve. Both areas are off-limits to all persons. We will prosecute anyone entering these areas for any purpose, including unauthorized lava sightseeing tours. Hikers have been lost or injured in these areas, and personnel called in to rescue them have also been put in danger.”
On Friday, officials with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said that if the flow continues on its current path, the agency is forecasting that the flow will cross Pāhoa Village Road, about 0.7 miles toward the center of Pāahoa from the Pāahoa Marketplace, on or around Sept. 24 to 26.
At its current rate, HVO forecasters say the lava flow continues to advance north northeast and has slowed to a rate of 820 feet per day. In an evening report, the HVO issued a volcanic activity notice saying lava from the Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent could reach the northwest corner of Kaʻohe Homesteads within a day and the Pāhoa Village Road in Pāhoa within 20 days.
HVO scientists continue to participate in public meetings in Pāhoa to update the community on the latest volcano activity. Our sister website Big Island Now provided an update from Thursday’s meeting in which an estimated 600 people were in attendance.
***VIDEO of the latest flow courtesy USGS & Hawaiian Volcanoes Observatory.