Lava from Hawaii volcano ‘as hot as it will ever get’

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The hottest and fastest-moving lava of Kilauea volcano’s latest eruption has spread across new parts of the Big Island in Hawaii.

The development forced officials to order evacuations in two coastal neighbourhoods over fears that the rapidly advancing flows could cut off dwindling escape routes.

The lava was moving fast enough to cover about six football fields an hour, according to US Geological Survey scientist Wendy Stovall.

“Hawaii County Civil Defence decided to evacuate all of lower Puna to ensure that people would be able to get out,” Ms Stovall said.

Lava gushed across and then along a road that leads from the commercial centre of Pahoa towards smaller towns and rural farmlands to the east.

About two dozen recent fissures in the area have created towering lava fountains and bone-rattling explosions throughout the eruption. The lava currently coming to the surface is the hottest and most fluid to date.

“This is the hottest lava that we’ve seen in this eruption, even just a matter of 50C makes a big difference in how quickly lava flows can move and how they behave once the magma exits the vent,” Ms Stovall said.

The eruptions in Puna are as hot as Hawaii’s lava will ever get. “It can’t get hotter than where we are,” Ms Stovall added. “We are pretty much tapping mantle temperatures right now.”

One fissure was observed spouting lava more than 200ft into the air.

Hawaii County officials said lava destroyed the electric utility’s equipment on the highway, which knocked out power to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach.

Lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood
Lava erupts from a fissure in the Leilani Estates neighbourhood (Grace Simoneau/FEMA/AP)

There were several small earthquakes at Kilauea’s summit on Wednesday, where the vent inside the volcano’s Halemaumau Crater has grown along with a series of explosive eruptions that have sent rock and ash thousands of feet into the sky.

The US Geological Survey released drone footage of another fast-moving lava flow that trapped a man in Leilani Estates over the weekend.

As lava rushed past the property, a USGS crew that was flying the drone used the aircraft to lead rescue teams to the stranded man, who was safely evacuated.

A man was arrested in Leilani Estates after police say he fired a gun and assaulted another man after demanding that the man and his friends leave the area on Tuesday.

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