Lava threatens to block Hawaii escape routeStaff Writer | May 20, 2018
Residents in the south-eastern corner of Hawaii's Big Island have been told to evacuate immediately as fast-moving lava from Kilauea volcano approaches a major coastal highway.
Nature Molten rock from two huge cracks merged into a single stream
It was expected to hit Highway 137 overnight if it kept up its rate and direction of flow, the County of Hawaii's Civil Defense Agency said.
Authorities are trying to open up a road that was blocked by lava in 2014 to serve as an alternative escape route should Highway 137 or another exit route, Highway 130, be blocked, Jessica Ferracane of the National Park Service told reporters.
The park service is working to bulldoze almost a mile of hardened lava out of the way on nearby Highway 11, which has been impassable, she added.
Bushfires ignited by the molten rock have also been spreading and officials have been going from door to door to warn householders.
If the lava flow meets the ocean it could release highly toxic gases into the air.
Meanwhile, the first known serious injury has been reported after a man was hit by lava.
"A homeowner on Noni Farms Road who was sitting on a third-floor balcony got hit with lava spatter," said Janet Snyder, a spokesperson for the Office of the Mayor, County of Hawaii.
"It hit him on the shin and shattered everything there down on his leg," she said, adding that lava spatters "can weigh as much as a refrigerator and even small pieces of spatter can kill." No other information was immediately available. ■