Lava forces residents from homes
Pahoa, Hawaii — Lava that's slowly creeping into a rural Hawaii town is about the length of a basketball court from a house.
The molten stream so far has burned a shed, some tires and vegetation — but no homes.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said Wednesday the lava is about 100 feet from a Pahoa residence. The couple who lives there has left.
Meanwhile, scientists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report the flow's leading edge is 240 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which leads through downtown. Pahoa is the commercial center of the island's sprawling, mostly agricultural Puna district, south of Hilo.
Dozens of homes, business and other structures are in the area of the flow's path. That amount could increase as the flow front widens.
The front was about 25 to 30 yards wide early Wednesday. It later widened to 40 to 50 yards.
Rain fell later Wednesday on the red-hot river of lava creeping closer to homes.
The precipitation wasn't enough to stem the 2,100-degree flow, but it did help tamp down smoke pouring from the crackling molten stream consuming everything in its path, officials said.
The flow from Kilauea volcano entered private property there Tuesday and destroyed an empty shed. It also burned tires and other materials, prompting authorities to warn downwind residents with respiratory problems to stay indoors.
The lava flow emerged from a vent in June and until recently had been slowly weaving through uninhabited forest and pastureland.
Officials say dozens of homes, businesses and other structures are now in its projected path. Most residents there either already have left or are prepared to go.
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