Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983. The lava flow now, however, poses a more serious threat as it is only about 100 meters away from the nearest residential property, officials from the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said on Oct. 27.
The lava flow came to a halt in late September but again resumed its movement several weeks ago. It is now on its way toward the village of Pahoa, a former sugar plantation with a population of about 800, which is depended on by surrounding towns for necessities such as medical services, groceries and gas.
Officials have already alerted those who live in the path of the molten rock that they may need to evacuate as the lava, which currently advances between 10 to 15 yards per hour, heads toward their homes. The slow-moving lava, which has burned everything in its path, has already advanced toward the town by about 275 yards in the past 24 hours.
The civil defense agency said that workers have already been sent out to go door to door and spread information on the possible need to evacuate if the situation becomes too dangerous.
"Based on the current flow location, direction and advancement, residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory," Hawaii's civil defense officials said.
Most residents, however, are apparently cautious of the advancing lava; most of them have already left their homes.
"Most people have vacated. They have moved out of their homes. There's only a few people left," Hawaii County Civil Defense worker Franchesca Martin-Howe said.
Although the Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously for three decades, the lava from the eruption was directed south. It has flowed northeast since two years ago.
The lava that now approaches Pahoa was initially advancing towards Puna district's Kaohe Homesteads, a lightly populated subdivision. It reached the subdivision's vacant lots before it slowed down and headed instead toward Pahoa.
Authorities said that they are monitoring the situation round the clock. Two roads were already closed and a temporary access road is currently being built to protect Highway 130, a major route used by up to 10,000 cars daily.
The access roads are crucial because thousands of people in the Puna district may possibly be "lava-locked" if Highway 130 will no longer be passable.
On Oct. 24, Gov. Neil Abercrombie requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration so federal resources could help supplement the emergency response measures to the Kilauea lava flow.