Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could spew boulders the size of refrigerators for miles

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Kilauea, the volcano that's been erupting on the Island of Hawaii over the past week, has already forced the evacuation of almost 2,000 people and the destruction of more than two dozen homes.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials urged residents in a community near Kilauea Volcano to be vigilant amid ongoing volcanic activity and hazardous emissions - and to be prepared to evacuated on short notice, CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB reports. Last month it was floods on Kauai. More than a dozen fissures oozing lava have opened in the ground.

The threat of unsafe volcanic activity in Hawaii could continue for weeks and violent explosions could occur with "very little warning", the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory cautioned Wednesday.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist Tina Neal said Friday that an analysis of rock samples indicates the lava's chemistry is similar to that from a 1955 eruption.

Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says the pentane was moved to an industrial park some 30 miles (48 kilometers) away from the Puna Geothermal Venture.

"If it goes up, it will come down", said Charles Mandeville, volcano hazards co- ordinator for the US Geological Survey. "If you're near the crater, within half a mile, you could be subject to ballistic blocks weighing as much as 10 or 12 tons", Donald Swanson of the Obervatory tells The Washington Post.

Such blasts would likely also eject plumes of volcanic ash that could be carried farther downwind into neighboring communities, creating a nuisance and potential respiratory irritant, but not a life-threatening hazard, officials said.

"It's just terrible. You can't breathe in there", said evacuated resident Robynn Stagg, 58, who drove through the thick, orange sulfur dioxide haze earlier this week in a failed attempt to check on her home.

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As fissures opened up on Kilauea's slopes, geologists also watched as levels of the Halema'uma'u lava lake at the volcano's summit dropped nearly 1,000 feet.

Due to the anticipated steam-induced explosion at the summit of Kīlauea caused by the receding lava lake, and the possibility of a rock and ash fall event, the majority of the park is closed until further notice. That kind of explosive eruption was last displayed by the volcano almost a century ago. Fifteen of the vents are now spread through the Leilani Estates and neighboring Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods.

It could hurl boulders the size of a refrigerator several kilometres away from the crater.

Hawaii Gov. David Ige said a geothermal energy plant near the lava outbreak was accelerating its removal of stored flammable gas as a precaution. Adding to the distress, of the 36 structures destroyed, 26 were homes. The fuel was expected to be removed by the end of Thursday.

Two subdivisions were evacuated last week after lava oozed out of the fissures.

No one lives in the immediate area of the summit crater, the crater and surrounding region are a part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which planned to close Friday.

People should also be cautious around the water: once lava interacts with saltwater, it produces hydrochloric acid, which is toxic. "We don't know what's going on underground".

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