29 Oct 2014

Lava flow close to Hawaii homes

11:11 am on 29 October 2014

A stream of lava on Hawaii's Big Island has crossed onto a residential property, where it is threatening to consume it's first home.

The slow-moving flow from the continuously erupting Kilauea volcano has been advancing on the town of Pahoa for weeks, and residents in its path have been told to prepare for evacuation.

Hawaii's County Civil Defence officials say the lava flow front is currently moving in a northeast direction and has entered a private residential property.

The lava has burnt grass and other vegetation, and has been advancing at an average speed of about 5 to 10 meters an hour.

It has already overrun a cemetery and a road on its path toward Pahoa village, which consists of small shops and homes, and a population of about 800 people.

A geologist, Janet Babb, says the lava has triggered methane explosions as it advances, likely due to decomposing vegetation that produces pools of the gas under the surface.

Meanwhile, crews have been building temporary access roads and trying to protect Highway 130, a route traveled by as many as 10,000 cars a day, and two other roads have closed.