(AP) — Officials were advising more residents of a rural Big Island district to evacuate Wednesday because of approaching lava from Kilauea volcano.
The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency said Wednesday lava from fissures continues to advance toward subdivisions in the Puna district. Officials say those in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland are at risk of being isolated if lava crosses a road.
Lava has already crossed Highway 132, which connects the commercial center of Pahoa with smaller towns and farms in the area.
Hawaii County said Tuesday the lava destroyed the local electric utility’s equipment on the highway. That knocked out power to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.
Hawaii Electric Light Co. the eruption has so far destroyed more than 400 of its utility poles.
Molten rock trapped at least one person who was rescued by authorities. The Kilauea volcano has been unleashing danger on the remote, rural southeastern side of the island for nearly a month, displacing thousands of residents, destroying 37 houses and forcing businesses to shut down.
Lava was shooting up from cracks in the ground and blowing strands of volcanic glass.
Explosions at the summit were sending small bursts of volcanic ash as high as 15,000 feet.
Wind was carrying volcanic glass, gases, pollution and ash particles to other parts of the island. Authorities on Tuesday advised residents to minimize exposure to avoid irritation to skin and eyes and breathing problems.
A new fissure has opened, bringing the total number of cracks spouting lava to 24 since the volcano began erupting on May 3, the county Civil Defense Agency said.
Lava also has covered two wells at a geothermal plant. County officials said the plugged wells were stable and being monitored, and no dangerous gases have been released, such as hydrogen sulfide — a colorless, flammable gas that can be emitted by volcanoes or when organic matter and waste break down.
Ormat Technologies, a Nevada company that owns the Puna Geothermal Venture plant, said it could not assess the extent of the damage to the wells. The facility produces roughly one-quarter of the Big Island’s daily energy supply.
The plant harnesses heat and steam from the Earth’s core to spin turbines to generate power. A flammable gas called pentane is used as part of the process, though officials earlier this month removed 50,000 gallons of the gas from the plant to reduce the chance of explosions. They also capped the 11 wells at the property to try to prevent a breach.
Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park has been closed for 19 days and has no water due to damaged utility lines, said Jessica Ferracane, a spokeswoman for the National Park Service.
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