Honolulu: Rural Hawaii residents are keeping a nervous eye on a lava flow that is moving 800 feet a day toward their community.
Lava from the Kilauea volcano is less than a mile from Kaohe Homesteads and could reach it in five to seven days if it continues on its current path, geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said, raising the alert level yesterday to a warning. It wasn't immediately clear how many homes could be affected.
However, the observatory said predicting a lava flow's exact path can be difficult because of subtle variations in topography, changes in lava volume and how lava enters or exits ground cracks.
The isolated agricultural region is part of the Big Island's Puna district, where Tropical Storm Iselle toppled trees and knocked out power last month.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the agency has not yet ordered an evacuation but mayor Billy Kenoi has declared an emergency, which allows authorities to restrict access to roads.
The Kilauea volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, but new vents or points where lava reaches the surface have opened periodically. Lava from the volcano wiped out neighbourhoods in 1990.