HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii authorities on Saturday told residents near an active lava flow to prepare for a possible evacuation in the next three to five days.
Officials are going door-to door to keep residents informed of the lava’s movement, Hawaii County Civil Defense said in a statement.
The lava crossed a country road on the edge of Pahoa town at 3:50 a.m., the agency said. It was moving northeast toward the Pahoa cemetery and the town’s main road at about 10 yards per hour.
Burning asphalt was generating some smoke.
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a request Friday for a Presidential Disaster Declaration asking for federal assistance to help local emergency crews.
Kilauea volcano on the Big Island has been erupting continuously since 1983. Most lava from this eruption has flowed south. But the lava has flowed to the northeast over the past two years.
The current flow that has been threatening Pahoa — the largest town in the mostly rural region of Puna — began in June.
The lava has been moving fitfully toward the town for weeks, speeding up and then slowing down.
Sporadic suspensions in the lava’s movement gave emergency crews time to work on building alternate routes to town in the event the flow cover the main road and highway.
Crews near the leading edge have been wrapping power poles with concrete rings as a layer of protection from the lava’s heat.
The lava’s pace picked up in recent days when it reached a gully, allowing it to move more efficiently like rain in a gutter.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.