May 8 (UPI) — With lava no longer spewing from the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, some residents in danger zones will be allowed to check on their property.
But local officials emphasized the danger is not over and more fissures could open.’
With varying intensity, the fissures were emitting steam and high levels of toxic sulphuric gases, as well as spewing lava. The volcano itself had been shooting lava streams up to 230 feet in the air.
About 1,700 residents in the area were ordered to evacuate. Lava has burned 35 structures, including 26 homes, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.
On Monday there were 12 fissures in or near the Leilani Estates subdivision of Puna on the eastern end of the big island. Lava was no longer coming out of the fissures but toxic sulfur dioxide fumes remained a major concern.
Leilani Estates residents can check on their property from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday until further notice but volcanic gases are preventing residents of Lanipuna Gardens to check on their homes.
Rain and winds on Monday allowed for relatively good air quality, with the same forecast for Tuesday.
“The wind and the rain together seems to be working in our favor,” Janet Snyder, county public relations specialist, told the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
The wind is expected to die down Wednesday, which could cause the emissions to stagnate and linger over the area, Snyder said.
“We’re trying to get as much done as we can with the better air quality that we have now,” Snyder said.
Meanwhile, a new problem is brewing underground in Puna. Authorities closed a stretch of Highway 130 after the roadway cracked and expanded to up to 4 inches wide.
“It’s probably part of the deformation from the magma being under the rift,” said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Talmadge Magno.
Flammable pentane at a geothermal power plant is also causing concern. On Monday, Puna Geothermal Venture announced it will move about 60,000 gallons of flammable pentane from its plant in Pohoiki, which has shut down operations.
The pentane has not been moved yet because the company does not have the containers needed to transport the chemical safely, according to county officials. Residents worry the lava could ignite the flammable gas and cause a major explosion.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said he “was taken aback a little bit because when we talked about the pentane, there were no provisions to remove the pentane. So, lesson No. 1, when this is over — and hopefully it will be over — we will ensure that this is addressed.”