DLNR warns about illegal lava viewing

HILO — The urge to get up close to lava during the current Kilauea eruption is not only unsafe but people who get caught now potentially face steep fines and jail time, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said in a press release Monday.

Earlier this month, Gov. David Ige issued a supplemental proclamation which provides fines of up to $5,000 and potentially a year in jail for people convicted of loitering in a closed area.

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“I find there is a need to strengthen the enforcement tools available to county and state emergency management officials in controlling public access to dangerous areas and associated evacuation efforts as a result of the failure of the public to comply with instructions and orders issued by officials,” Ige stated in the proclamation.

Prior to the enactment of more severe penalties, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) had issued more than three dozen citations. Some of the people cited over the past week and a half in various closed areas could face the new penalties if convicted. The ages of the suspects cited for loitering in a closed area were not immediately available.

June 9

Fransiska Bass-Hawaiian Paradise Park (cited at MacKenzie State Recreation Area)

Marshall Lund-Hawaiian Paradise Park (cited at MacKenzie State Recreation Area)

June 10

Gabrielle Jaitt-Pahoa (cited at Paakikii or Coconut Grove)

Oscar Jaitt-Pahoa (cited at Paakikii or Coconut Grove)

Douglas Amaya-California (cited at Lava Tree State Park)

Reina Villatoro de Garcia-California (cited at Lava Tree State Park)

June 11

Andrew Denton-Kea‘au (cited at Paakikii or Coconut Grove)

Daniel DeLong-California (cited at MacKenzie State Recreation Area)

Edric Money-California (cited at MacKenzie State Recreation Area)

June 14

Ravi Purpuri-California (cited at Lava Tree State Park)

Christina Sharpe-Kamuela (cited at Lava Tree State Park)

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Zoe Zivalic-Kamuela (cited at Lava Tree State Park)

During patrols DOCARE officers often have to put on gas masks to protect themselves from the noxious volcanic gasses being created by lava. They also note that fast flowing lava can cut off escape routes putting both rescuers and loiterers at great risk. With the latest round of citations officers have now cited nearly 40 people since the East Rift Zone eruption began in early May.