County spending for lava response tops $5 million

  • U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY photo Lava in the fissure 8 channel is now crusted over. Fissure 8 and other inactive fissures are steaming in the background, a common sight during early morning overflights (cooler air temperature results in more condensation, making steam more visible).

HILO — Hawaii County has spent $5.1 million responding to the Kilauea eruption in the past three months.

Nancy Crawford, deputy finance director, said that amount is current through July, except for payroll, which is up to date as of mid-July. Only overtime is calculated when determining labor costs.

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As of Tuesday, the eruption remained paused, with little activity on the East Rift Zone.

According to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, there was no lava in the upper channel of fissure 8 and small ooze-outs near the coast. The ocean entry near Pohoiki was active, but lava had not advanced significantly closer to the boat ramp.

A lava lake was located in the fissure about 5 to 10 yards below the spillway entrance.

The summit remained quiet with no additional collapse events since Thursday.

Emissions at Pu‘u ‘O‘o were lower Tuesday after spiking Friday. HVO said measurements are similar to what was seen during the past three months. No active lava was seen in the crater during a Monday overflight.

“Summit and (lower East Rift Zone) changes considered together imply that the rate of magma leaving the summit to feed the lower East Rift Zone eruption has decreased,” HVO said in a status report.

“How long this condition will persist is unknown. It is possible that outflow (on the lower East Rift Zone) will pick up again, resulting in renewed summit area deflation (and) leading to another collapse event and renewed eruption vigor … .”

Meanwhile, firefighters continued to battle a brush fire on Mauna Loa, mostly inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

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The fire burned 1,500 acres by Tuesday afternoon but was not threatening structures.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.