Lava enters Kapoho Bay, 04 June 2018

Accessed on 04 June 2018, 2120 UTC, Pos #16951.


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Now that lava has reached Kapoho Bay, Hawaii County officials are making a last-minute appeal for residents in Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland to evacuate their homes before they are overcome by noxious gases and searing hot lava.  Most escape routes have been cut by rapidly advancing lava flows, leaving only a few beach trails and coastal paths available for escape. Some residents may find a recently-cut path to the Old Chain of Craters Road a better alternative.

Hawaii County Managing Director Will Okabe says helicopter missions to rescue residents and their possession will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with safety of rescue personnel being a prime consideration.

Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder offers this assessment for those who refuse to leave the isolated area:

“the lava hitting the ocean is causing laze, a hazardous, caustic gas containing hydrochloric acid and small particles of volcanic glass… residents, first-responders and others, are advised to stay a quarter-mile away from the laze plume emanating from the lava entry at Kapoho Bay.”


Some folks must have a death wish.  Why would anyone ignore the obvious?  Warnings and messages have been issued to the public since the eruption began in early May.  And, still, stubborn people want to go down “with the ship.”

Perhaps a deeper issue lies below the surface.  Why were developers allowed to encourage settlement in these areas when past lava incursions have been so well documented?  A look at recent USGS maps shows a variety of lava flows which once dominated the region, some as late as the Kapoho Village flow that buried the small settlement back in 1960.  Please refer to an article by “Hawaii Tribune-Herald” reporter Tom Callis on page A3 of the newspaper’s Monday edition (04 June 2018).  The story told by lava survivor Frances Kakugawa should be required reading for all of us.  Those who think “it can’t happen to me” are sadly mistaken.  Remember how much debate was created by  Puna Geothermal Venture when it first proposed a power plant southeast of Pahoa? Why wasn’t a vigorous effort made to address developers who wanted to build homes in the same, risk-prone area?  A classic case of “don’t confuse me with facts–my mind is made up.” Sometimes, the foolishness and ignorance of people are simply amazing.

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Until next time,

Russ Roberts