Park rangers cite visitors to volcano eruption site

HONOLULU — Park rangers have cited dozens of people who have gathered at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness an ongoing eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

The rangers said those cited had ventured into dangerous areas to take photos and videos of the volcano eruption that commenced Sunday night, creating a lava lake that was 577 feet as of Friday night.

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“All it takes is a slight change in wind direction and these offenders could inhale a fatal dose of volcanic gas,” said Chief Ranger Jack Corrao. “One misstep or a crumbling cliff edge and they could plunge into the vast pit of molten rock or to the crater floor. We want to keep the park open so everyone can safely experience this beautiful new eruption, but when visitors enter closed areas, rangers must concentrate on these few individuals. This puts our staff in hazardous situations.”

The eruption was contained in an area of the park that has been closed since 2007, and where there are dangerous levels of volcanic gas, rockfalls, explosions and volcanic glass particulates, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.

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Fines for violating national park rules start at $150, said Jessica Ferracane, a spokeswoman for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The fines increase after multiple violations and can lead to being expelled from the park.

Ferracane said that a crowd of cars had lined up at the park entrance to catch a glimpse of the eruption since its start.

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