Dozens of residents in a rural area of Hawaii were placed on alert as flowing lava from an erupting volcano continued to advance. Hawai’i County Civil Defense announced Sunday morning that the June 27 lava flow front has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday. It is said to be moving at the rate of about 10 to 15 yards an hour in the northeast direction, consistent with its advancement in recent days.

The flow front passed through a predominantly Buddhist cemetery, covering grave sites in the mostly rural region of Puna, and was roughly a half-mile from Pahoa Village Road, the main street of Pahoa.

Smoke conditions in the area were reported as light to moderate with moderate trade winds from the northeast pushing smoke in a south-southwest direction.

There is the possibility that smoke conditions can increase in some areas. Residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and remain indoors.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists have reported that, as of yesterday, the flow front has continued its downslope decent.According to HVO, the flow front has advanced 150 yards from 5 p.m. Saturday to about 9 a.m. Sunday morning.

Additionally, the flow was about 45 yards wide at 5 p.m. Saturday and has since spread out to about 150 yards.

The flow had been deflected away from the steepest-decent line it had been following and toward the cemetery by an old man-made cane-field berm just above Apa’a St. The flow is now advancing downslope between two intersecting steepest-decent paths and will likely return to the original steepest-decent path.

Aerial view of Mt Kilauea spewing smoke and ash

As of 9 a.m. this morning, flow front activity was about 0.5 miles in straight-line distance from Pahoa Village Road and about 0.9 miles from Highway 130, according to information released by HVO.

The once narrow lobe that overtook the original flow front on Tuesday has been advancing consistently over the past two days. It originally crossed its first paved road, Apa’a St., on Saturday morning at 3:50 a.m.

Current lava flow location, direction and advancement has placed residents in the flow path on evacuation notice. The evacuation notice means residents who are in areas where the flow path is expected to go should prepare for possible evacuation in the next three to five days.

On Saturday afternoon, Civil Defense, Hawai’i Electric Light and Community Response Team personnel conducted door to door notification of residents in downslope areas of Pahoa Village to ensure residents were aware of current activities. Officials planned to expand their efforts into secondary areas.

Residents will be kept informed of the flow movement and are asked to complete all necessary preparations for a possible evacuation on Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Apa’a St. and Cemetery Road will continue to remain closed. Civil Defense and Public Safety personnel will continue operating in the area around the clock to main close observation of flow activity.

Darryl Oliveira, director of civil defense for Hawaii County, told reporters during a late Sunday morning teleconference that the nearest home was at least 300 yards from the flow front. He planned to get better coordinates during a flight later in the day.

Residents in the nearest home said they could see the flow front from their balcony and were prepared to evacuate when the time came, Oliveira said. Residents in the flow path have been told to complete all necessary preparations by Tuesday for a possible evacuation. The timeline could change, based on the flow rate.

Oliveira estimated there were at least 50 to 60 structures, including homes and businesses, in the area most likely to be impacted.

Authorities went door-to-door, notifying residents Saturday of the need to be ready to evacuate. The vast majority of residents contacted had identified places where they could go, with “less than a handful” saying they may need to go to a shelter, he said.

As the lava moved through the cemetery, Oliveira said a monument was visible, protruding through the molten mass. Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983. Most lava from this eruption has flowed south. But the lava has flowed to the northeast over the past two years. The current flow that has been threatening Pahoa began in June. It’s been moving toward town in fits and starts for weeks, speeding up and then slowing down.

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