Hawaii officials order some residents to flee from fast lava

Hawaii volcanic smog blankets Marshall Islands

Officials ordered about 2,000 residents of Leilani Estates neighborhood and nearby areas to evacuate when fissures began opening in the communities earlier this month.

"You are at risk of being isolated due to possible lava inundation", the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency warned.

After weeks of scientific updates on the volcano, the U.S. Geological Survey took a lighter tone as it responded to a question on Twitter about whether it would be safe to roast marshmallows over volcanic vents.

But the mandatory evacuation was "decided prior to that incident", said David Mace, a spokesperson for the Federal Emergency Management Agency now assigned to the Hawaii County Civil Defense authority.

Despite evacuation orders for the area, some residents returned.

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The lava is bubbling from a particularly violent fissure - or volcanic crack in the Earth's surface - called Fissure 8.

Fissure 8 remains the most active, the USGS says, sending "persistent fountains" of lava as high as 260 feet into the air.

He told Hawaii News Now: "If we can get a project like that going over here, I'm confident that you ring that bell people are going to come, people are going to support it".

Leilani Estates resident Steve Gebbie said he lost his home to lava Sunday night. Lava from another fissure was about 2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers) above the intersection and was advancing in pauses and surges of about 600 yards (548.64 meters) per hour, scientists said. "Lava can't get hotter than where we are".

More than 300 people are now staying in emergency shelters, as Hawaii's mayor told residents to "heed evacuation orders" otherwise "you're on your own".

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Fast-moving lava from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano forced officials to close part of a highway on Tuesday, and they warned that sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers carried by the wind could injure eyes and lungs.

The unsafe fibers - named after Hawaiian fire and volcano goddess Pele - are produced when lava splatter droplets cools rapidly in the air and can cause skin and eye irritation similar to volcanic ash. The ocean entries that were previously created by lava flows from fissure 22 are now inactive, but a new flow fed from the central part of the fissure system is slowly making its way just west of the previous flow channels and might reach the ocean near Mackenzie State park.

Video and images shared by the agencies showed massive yellow bulldozers breaking up the black rock, which is 20 to 30 feet thick in some spots.

"Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports that lava from several fissures continues to move through Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens and towards the Kapoho area".

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