PAHOA, Hawaii – After weeks of slow, stop-and-go movement, a river of asphalt-black lava destroyed a wooden shed Tuesday as it crept closer to homes in a Big Island community.
The lava flow easily burned down the empty shed at about 7:30 a.m., several hours after entering a residential property in Pahoa Village, said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.
A branch of the molten stream was less than the length of a football field from a two-story house. It could hit the home later Tuesday if it continues on its current path, Oliveira estimated.
Residents of Pahoa Village, the commercial center of the island’s rural Puna district south of Hilo, have had weeks to prepare for what’s been described as a slow-motion disaster. Most have either already left or are prepared to go.
At least 50 or 60 structures – including homes and businesses – are in the area likely to be hit.
On Tuesday morning, civil defense officials said the lava was about 500 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which runs through downtown and is one of the town’s main roads.
Josiah Hunt, who has a farm in a part of Puna that is not immediately threatened, described smelling burning grass, feeling warmth from the lava and hearing “popping and sizzling.”
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