Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

Hawaii volcano produces blue flames from methane

Hawaii volcano produces blue flames from methane

The tiny blue blazes are a result of buried vegetation catching fire and filling cracks in the road with ignitable methane.

Local officials say the molten rock "can weigh as much as a refrigerator" after getting spewed out from a fissure.

View from a helicopter of the channelized lava flow and active ocean entry. Stefani Hinkle said she knows her neighborhood is unsafe; she feels it in her burning throat. "It opened up very recently", USGS volcanologist Wendy Stovall said Thursday.

Big Island Now said lava fountains formed from fissures 5, 6, 13 and 19, which feed the lava flow west of fissure 22.

Residents of Leilani Estates have been allowed to return at times since the eruptions began. And right now, it's all a lava lake.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said if lava interacts with the wells, it could release risky hydrogen sulfide gas.

Eruptions from the volcano began on May 3.

The blue flames were observed in cracks on Kahukai Street in the Leilani Estates Subdivision.

Lava has destroyed 50 buildings, including about two dozen homes.

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Where is Kilauea volcano on Big Island?

Puna supplies 25% of the Big Island's power, and had been built smack in the rift zone of Kilauea.

At least four people were airlifted over the weekend in Lower Puna. Of those, about 4 percent - 2,000 residents - have been forced to evacuate.

Lava entered the ocean from a third flow, marking the third week of a Hawaii volcano eruption that has opened up almost two dozen vents in rural communities, destroyed dozens of buildings and shot miles-high plumes of ash into the sky.

Although the Kīlauea eruption did not itself cause any injuries, and mainly produced volcanic gas, its after-effects have been risky.

A fine layer of brownish-gray ash coated vehicles and other surfaces, and an ash plume rising from the volcano summit was visible in the distance through the hazy air.

A volcanic ash cloud hovers in the distance over the small town of Pahala during the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano in Pahala, Hawaii, U.S., May 23, 2018.

Authorities are urging people to stay away from areas where lava meets the ocean because of its hazards. Free masks are available to residents, up to three per person, to protect against breathing in the ash.

On Saturday the volcano caused its first injury when erupting lava hit a man sitting on his balcony, shattering his leg. Kilauea is the most lethal volcano in American history, but this reputation comes mostly from a 1790 eruption that killed 400. Blasts could toss rocks several feet.

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