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Lava flow “dying off” near Pahoa, upslope breakouts remain active

PAHOA — Lava that was threatening homes more than a week ago continues to cool as Hawaii County prepares to restore access to Pahoa Village Road in time for Thanksgiving.

A half-mile section of the road between Apa‘a Street and Post Office Road closed Oct. 26 after lava reached the small town, only to stop short of the main thoroughfare a few days later.

With surface flows occurring upslope for the time being, county officials have sought to reopen the closed section to return some sense of normalcy to residents who have lived with the pending disaster since August.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira told reporters the road should be ready for through traffic Wednesday, the day before the holiday.

A Tuesday morning overflight of the flow was postponed due to poor visibility, he said. As of Monday afternoon, surface flows from upslope breakouts were between 3.5 and 5 miles from Apa‘a Street.

Mike Poland, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geophysicist, said the flow below those areas continues to cool and is “dying off.”

“It doesn’t mean it can’t be reoccupied,” he said. “This tube still does exist. There’s no lava in that lower area right now.”

To reopen the road, cinder placed around utility poles as a protective measure had to be removed. Other barriers placed around the poles to protect them from lava are still in place.

Warning indicators, such as flashing lights, might be placed near the poles to warn drivers of any hazards, Oliveira said.

Apa‘a Street will remain closed. Oliveira said efforts are still being made to establish a lava viewing area on that road if the flow remains inactive nearby.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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