The National Guard was called out as a finger of molten rock lava from the Kilauea volcano flow crept to within 100 feet of a home in the Hawaiian town of Pahoa on Wednesday, civil defense officials said.
About 80 members of the Hawaii Guard will be on the scene Thursday morning after local officials requested state and federal assistance, said Darryl Oliveira, director of the Hawai’i County Civil Defense Agency. They’ll help manage roadblocks and traffic as lava from the June 27 flow — named for the day it was first observed — menaced 15 to 20 other homes and several dozen other structures on the Big Island.
The main river of lava was about 240 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which runs through the town of 1,000 people. But Wednesday, a small, 5-yard-wide finger broke off and began advancing toward the closest home, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. Oliveira said the residents of that home had already evacuated.
The lava itself isn’t the only problem. The contents of all of the sheds and other structures in the path of the lava haven’t been fully catalogued, and “if there’s chemicals involved, we’re presented with another hazard,” Oliveira said.
— M. Alex Johnson