Warnings that Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could shoot boulders and ash out of its summit crater are prompting people to rethink their plans to visit the Big Island. "It's one of the best ways we can "see" what's going on".
The Leilani Estates community remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, majority homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.
President Donald Trump has declared the ongoing Kilauea volcanic eruption on Hawaii's Big Island a major disaster. Experts said an explosion wouldn't be deadly as long as people steer clear of areas immediately near the volcano.
In coming weeks, the summit crater could eject blocks up to 2 yards in diameter a little less than a mile away, the United States Geological Survey said.
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park requested the restriction due to the possibility of a steam-driven explosive eruption in Halemaumau Crater at Kilauea's summit that could send of ash, rocks and volcanic debris over the surrounding areas.
Hawaii County authorities advised residents on the Big Island through a text message to monitor their sensitivity to increased levels of SO2, a toxic gas. No one lives in the immediate area of the summit.
Janet Coney, office manager of the Kilauea Lodge, an inn and restaurant, said officials told her lodge employees probably won't have to worry about rocks raining down on them but might experience falling ash.
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Kilauea has destroyed 36 structures - including 26 homes - since May 3, when it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles east of the summit crater. It is eventually released through an explosion, sending extremely hot steam, rocks, gases and volcanic ash forcibly upward.
"When you start seeing ferns go brown overnight, it's like, 'Wow, I gotta get out of here, '" said Peters, sitting at a Red Cross evacuation center at a sports center in nearby Pahoa.
Authorities previously ordered almost 2,000 residents to leave the neighborhoods in and around the vents in the mostly rural district of Puna.
In little more than a week, the top of the lava lake has gone from spilling over the crater to nearly 970 feet (295 meters) below the surface as of Thursday morning, Mandeville said. "A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources", Ige said.
The small, aptly named town of Volcano, Hawaii, population 2,500, is about three miles from the summit.
Authorities also ordered workers to remove flammable pentane from a geothermal plant that is near communities that saw lava oozed from cracks in the ground.
Robert Hughes, the owner of Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast in Volcano, said he's had "tons" of cancellations since Wednesday when geologists first warned of the explosive eruption.