Hawaii Residents on Edge as Lava Creeps Closer

Threat level raised from 'watch' to 'warning' as flow comes within mile of houses
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2014 7:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Residents in the Ka'ohe Homesteads section on the Big Island of Hawaii are warily watching a lava flow that is slowly sliding their way, with some saying the lava could reach the neighborhood within a week, reports ABC News. The threat level has been raised from "watch" to "warning" by the US Geological Survey, and the mayor of Hawaii County declared a state of emergency as the molten rock from the Kilauea volcano made its way to about a mile from the subdivision, reports the Los Angeles Times. "We are taking this step to ensure our residents have time to prepare their families, their pets, and their livestock for a safe and orderly evacuation … in the event the flow continues to advance," the mayor says.

The USGS upgrade translates to an imminently hazardous lava flow, reports the Times. About 8,200 people live in the affected area, and the lava is heading toward them at a pace of about 800 feet per day, reports the AP. To confuse matters, it's hard to figure out exactly where lava's going to go next as it's dependent on topography and how the stuff enters and exits ground cracks, notes ABC. Local officials said that civil defense workers would be sent out to canvass the neighborhood and encourage people to get out now, not stay behind and lava-watch from their rooftops. "The lava cannot be seen from the subdivision, and there is no reason for nonresidents to be in the … subdivision at this time," one city official says.

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