Home / National News / Unstoppable Lava Flow Reaches Hawaiian Town


(PAHOA, Hawaii) — A stream of molten lava has oozed into a small Hawaiian town, covering the yard of the house closest to the volcano, Hawaii County officials reported Tuesday.

The lava flow has been edging its way towards Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island for weeks with authorities and residents powerless to halt or divert it.

The final number of Kilauea residents affected has not been released, but it is expected to be dozens.

The lava is advancing at about 10 to 15 yards per hour, making it far slower than one might expect from a Hollywood version of the nightmare scenario, but it is moving at a steady pace.

One major road has been closed to everyone except residents. Teams of scientists are among the few allowed close to the flow so that they can provide reports from the burning front line.

The lava is blistering hot, burying streets and covering trees. Residents in the scenic town of Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island were forced to flee, powerless to stop the approaching river of lava.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do,” resident Theresa Zendejas said. “It’s really scary.”

The lava has been spewing from the Kilauea volcano since it erupted in June. The lava flow has traveled 12 miles since then, at times speeding up erratically, recently fanning out to cover more ground.

Officials say there is no way to stop the lava, but they’re working to protect power poles from burning and to create detours in case the main road is affected — which would cut off access for thousands of people. Hawaii officials are making arrangements for those living in the lava’s path.

Beyond being buried by dozens of feet of hardened black rock, structures could also catch fire by being near the 2,000-degree lava.

Since Kilauea’s current eruption began in 1983, unstoppable lava flows have added 500 new acres to the island and destroyed at least 181 homes, a visitor center, a church and a community center, according the National Park Service.

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