Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lava Lovers Live With Danger

We saw new homes built on recent lava flows on Hawaii's Big Island in early February - last month. We were astonished because we traveled there in March and June, 1990 when lava from Kilauea was destroying the village of Kalapana - over 100 homes, a church and the only store. "Why would anyone build on a lava flow less than 20 years old?" we asked pilot Mark of Island Hoppers. "They don't know how long they have, but the land is cheap and there is plenty of warning when the lava comes to burn up your house!" Now they are watching the lava come close again. It has again cut a path through a nearby former neighborhood. Royal Gardens is closer to the lava source and was obliterated and cut off by flows in the 1980s. Since it is inaccessible only two people live there and a few other abandoned structures survived the fiery lave. It's hard to imagine wanting to live there, but people do. Lava Lovers Live With Danger - Examiner.com:
KALAPANA, Hawaii (Map, News) - As fiery lava pours down Kilauea volcano toward Jean Olson's lonely wooden house, incinerating everything in its path, there's no place she'd rather be. "Why would I live here if I didn't like it? I have the best view of anyone in town," said Olson, who lives just over a mile from fountains of glowing lava spewing into the ocean. "Either she comes or she doesn't. If she comes, we'll pick up and leave." Thousands of visitors a day come to nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to watch Kilauea erupt, something it has been doing for a quarter-century. But some residents live with the boiling lava every day and revel in the notion that their homes and lives are subject to the whims of earth's awesome underground forces. The danger has become clearer in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a two-block-wide swath of lava burned through abandoned homes and reached the ocean. And the first gas explosion at Kilauea's peak since 1924 scattered gravel onto a tourist lookout, road and trail before daybreak last week, injuring no one but spreading fear.

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