HONOLULU Lava flow from the Kilauea volcano that has been creeping toward inhabited areas of Hawaii's Big Island for months is now just 100 yards (meters) from the nearest residential property, authorities said on Monday.
Residents in the path of the lava have been placed on alert for possible evacuation, and smoke advisories have been issued for downwind areas, the County of Hawaii said in a civil defense alert.
The lava flow, which first bubbled out of the continuously erupting volcano on June 27, came to a standstill in late September, but resumed its slow crawl forward several weeks ago. It has moved about 275 yards since Sunday morning.
The leading edge of the flow, which is about 110 yards wide and spreading, is now heading toward Pahoa village, a historic former sugar plantation consisting of small shops and homes with a population of about 800 people.
The civil defense message said the lava was advancing about 10 to 15 yards an hour and that authorities would be monitoring it around the clock. Two roads had been closed.
Crews have been scrambling to build temporary access roads and protect Highway 130, a major route traveled by as many as 10,000 cars a day.
Without such access roads, some 8,000 people in the Puna district could become "lava-locked" if Highway 130 were to become impassable.
The Kilauea volcano has erupted from its Pu’u O’o vent since 1983. The last home destroyed by lava on the Big Island was at the Royal Gardens subdivision in Kalapana in 2012, according to Big Island Civil Defense.
(Reporting by Malia Mattoch McManus in Honolulu and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)