Rain fell Wednesday on a red-hot river of lava creeping closer to homes and a main road in a rural Big Island town.
The precipitation wasn’t enough to stem the 2,100-degree flow, but it did help tamp down smoke pouring from the crackling molten stream consuming everything in its path, officials said.
The lava was about 280 yards from Pahoa Village Road, which leads through the community of Pahoa’s downtown, Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said Wednesday. It had advanced about 90 yards since the previous evening.
Pahoa is the commercial center of the island’s sprawling, mostly agricultural Puna district, south of Hilo.
The flow from Kilauea volcano entered private property there Tuesday and destroyed an empty shed. It also burned tires and other materials, prompting authorities to warn downwind residents with respiratory problems to stay indoors.
The lava flow emerged from a vent in June and until recently had been slowly weaving through uninhabited forest and pastureland.
Officials say dozens of homes, businesses and other structures are now in its projected path. Most residents there either already have left or are prepared to go.
Jeff and Denise Lagrimas packed up to leave for a town 14 miles away. The flow is expected to slither past properties across the street from their home as it works its way to the ocean.
They decided not to stay and see if that happens or if the lava burns their home.
“I don’t want to stick around and just wait for it to come and take it,” Denise Lagrimas said while taking a break from loading kitchen cups and bowls in cardboard boxes. “You just never know.”
She said they decided to move to Kurtistown because it’s a safe distance away.
“It’s so surreal. It’s so surreal,” Denise Lagrimas said. “Never in my wildest dreams as a kid growing up did I think I would be running from lava.”
Associated Press writer Alina Hartounian contributed to this report.