Lava burns 2 buildings at geothermal plant

  • In this photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, crews make visual observations of lava activity at fissure 8, Thursday, May 31, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. Fountain heights Thursday morning continued to reach 230 to 260 feet (70 to 80 meters) above ground level. The fountaining feeds a lava flow that is moving to the northeast along Highway 132 into the area of Noni Farms road. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

HONOLULU — Lava has burned down two buildings at a geothermal plant near Kilauea volcano.

A substation and adjacent warehouse that stored a drilling rig at the Puna Geothermal Venture were covered by lava on Wednesday, according to a Thursday statement from Ormat Technologies, the Nevada company that owns the plant.

The main access road to the plant has also been covered and blocked by lava. An alternative access road remains open. Two geothermal wellheads were destroyed on May 28.

The Puna geothermal plant was taken offline and evacuated soon after the volcano began erupting on May 3.

Officials removed roughly 50,000 gallons of pentane, a flammable gas similar to lighter fluid used in power generation at the plant, to an off-site industrial park. The geothermal wells were also plugged to prevent the accidental release of toxic gases from the lava flow.

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