Flow picks up speed; bulldozers vandalized

A Civil Defense overflight Wednesday morning observed that the June 27 lava flow has picked up speed since the beginning of the week.

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A Civil Defense overflight Wednesday morning observed that the June 27 lava flow has picked up speed since the beginning of the week.

In a U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory update released Wednesday morning, it was reported that the flow was heading northeast through thick forest in the northwest portion of Kaohe Homesteads. The flow is creating smoke plumes as it engulfs trees and other vegetation, but fires are not spreading.

The front had advanced at an average rate of 890 feet a day since Monday, which is slightly faster than the advance rate of 705 feet a day between last Friday and Monday.

The flow front was 9.9 miles from the vent, measured in a straight line. The actual length of the flow was 11.3 miles.

The flow front Wednesday morning was 1.7 miles upslope from Apaa Road.

Hawaii County Department of Public Works confirmed Wednesday afternoon a pair of police reports were filed concerning theft of fuel and vandalism of bulldozers involved in efforts to clear alternate routes for Puna residents to use if lava reaches Highway 130.

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Work on those routes continued Wednesday, and the clearing of Railroad Avenue and Government Beach Road appeared to be on schedule for completion by Sept. 29, said DPW spokeswoman Noelani Whittington.

However, “it was reported to us that approximately 100 gallons of diesel fuel was siphoned from a dozer,” she said.

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