Hawaii Residents Prepare To Evacuate As Lava Nears Homes

Lava flow from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been inching toward homes in Pahoa on the Big Island for months, and as of Monday morning, it was 100 yards from the nearest residence.

Residents in the path of the lava have been put on alert, according to MSN, and smoke advisories have been issued by the County of Hawaii for those living downwind.

The lava flow began in June and came to a brief stop in late September, but resumed moving toward the homes a few weeks ago. CBS reports it has now picked up speed, moving between 15 and 20 yards an hour. The lava flow has moved about 275 yards since Sunday.

The Inquisitr reported over the weekend that a few residents in the path of the lava flow had already evacuated, but now about 4,000 more have been put under an evacuation advisory Sunday evening by the County of Hawaii Civil Defense force.

lava burns through the trees

The lava flow has already covered graves in a predominately Buddhist cemetery, and come close enough to the main street of Pahoa to lead officials to close the road to all but the village's residents.

People living in the threatened homes said they could see the lava flow from their balcony and were prepared to evacuate when they time came. Officials estimate that there are at least 50 or 60 homes and businesses in the area that are likely to be impacted.

Most of the affected residents have made plans for a place to stay, but a few said they would need to go to a shelter, which the Red Cross plans to open.

USA Today reports that the Kilauea volcano has been erupting continuously since 1983, but most of the lava has flowed south into the ocean. However in the past two years, the lava has been flowing to the northeast, toward Pahoa.

Last week, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie requested a Presidential Disaster Declaration to get federal funds to help local emergency protective measures.

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The flow has been burning everything in its path. Geologist Jan Babb says that the lava flow has been setting off methane explosions also, caused by decomposing vegetation in its path.

Babb said that the explosions were a bit unnerving, especially one that passed near where she was standing.

"At the time that it happened, it was such a rumble I thought it was thunder and that we were about to be struck by lightning."

Residents were told Monday afternoon to be prepared to evacuate their homes by Tuesday, and Civil Defense and Public Safety officials will be going door to door to the homes in the path of the lava flow in the downslope areas of Pahoa village to notify inhabitants.

[Image via NBC]