Residents riding out Hawaii lava told to escape torrents

The fissures spewing lava in the eastern district of Puna on Hawaiis Big Island can be seen from space in this cropped

The fissures spewing lava in the eastern district of Puna on Hawaiis Big Island can be seen from space in this cropped

Volcanic smog, or air pollution, is created by vapor, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide gas released from Kilauea. I'm going to go ahead and trust the USGS on this, and not let curiosity get the better of me by finding out first-hand just exactly how spectacular a reaction that would be.

Hawaii County Civil Defense says Highway 132 is being shut down between Lava Tree State Park to Four Corners, due to a fast moving lava flow approaching the highway.

The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has now covered nearly 2,400 acres in lava.

Residents watched from afar and up close as much of the fissure system - from the middle of Leilani Estates to the east end of the line of outbreaks - spewed out lava, creating fountains that topped at least 200 feet and triggering flows that covered several properties.

The agency warned that ash was drifting northwest and liable to dust anyone in the summit area.

The lava flow originated from Fissure 8, and began advancing rapidly to the northeast from near Kahukai road before 4 a.m. HST, the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported. Its operator, Israeli-controlled Ormat Technologies Inc, said it had not been able to assess the damage.

Only one person has been seriously injured so far, when a man's leg was shattered when it was hit by a flying molten rock.

The plant, Puna Geothermal Venture, lies on the southeast flank of the volcano, nestled between residential neighborhoods.

But lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world and the potential threat is untested, according to the head of the state's emergency management agency.

U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard helicopters are on standby for an air evacuation if fissure activity cuts off Highway 130, the last exit route for up to 1,000 coastal residents.

The number of houses and other structures destroyed by lava flows in the island's lower Puna district leapt to 82 on Friday, from a previous count of 50 after fissures reactivated in Leilani Estates this week.

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