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Lava Flow In Hawaii Spares Homes, But Threatens To Cut Off Community

Lava near the leading edge of the flow oozes over a concrete slab and toward a tangerine tree before solidifying near the town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii earlier this week.

Officials in Hawaii are sending National Guard troops to the town of Pahoa on the Big Island, where a lava flow is creeping toward a main road, threatening to cut off the community.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said 83 troops have been sent to the town of fewer than 1,000 to help provide security. They are to aid in a road block and with other safety issues, The Associated Press says.

"These are local troops, people from the community. They'll be here working to take care of their family and friends," Oliveira said.

As we reported earlier, dozens of residents had prepared to watch their homes destroyed by the lava, but so far only one shed has been destroyed by the scorching flow.

Even so, "Pahoa residents say the lava will reshape the community yard by yard as it creeps toward the ocean," the AP writes.

KHON writes: "Residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors. Additional health advisories may be issued depending upon materials involved with any fires associated with the lava flow."

The news agency says:

"The front of the flow was 'sluggish' Thursday, Oliveira said, moving less than 5 yards per hour.

"The languid pace has given residents time to pack their valuables and get out of the way. But it's been agonizing for those wondering whether the lava might change directions and head for them, and stressful for those trying to figure out how they will cope once the lava blocks the town's only roads."

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