Hawaii lava heads towards petrol bunk, shopping mall
Hawaii's Pahoa lava flow heads towards petrol bunk, shopping mall.Reuters

Officials have raised warning that Lava from Kilauea volcano in Hawaii's Big Island is making way to a shopping complex with an attached gas station and supermarket within 10 days.

According to Hawaii News Now, the lava flow has advanced 825 feet in the east-northeast direction since Monday and is now just a mile upslope from the Highway 130 and Pahoa Village Road intersection. The characteristics of the lava flow do not pose any serious threat to the area communities, but the business in the Pahoa marketplace may take a hit.

Malama Market in Pahoa is set to be evacuated and closed by Thursday, 18 December, by 6pm (HST), including the largest grocery store in the locality. However store officials would be establishing satellite locations to distribute key supplies like rice, water, canned and paper goods.

The gas station attached to the supermarket would sell the remaining fuel and pump out whatever is left over before evacuation, and fill the tanks with water and fire-fighting foam, Hawaii County Civil Defence Director Darryl Oliveira said.

It was earlier decided that the tanks would be filled with sand, but that would not remove all flammable vapours and would have damaged the pumping system. Fire-fighting foams would ensure that the tanks are still in good condition to be used after the lava passes and the pump is reopened.

The shopping centre also contains a hardware store, pharmacy and auto repair shop. The residents fear that life as they know would completely change if the lava passes through Pahoa Marketplace and crosses Highway 130.

"I was here when Kalapana went out, but losing all of our market? We have nothing now, even if we have to be routed around Crater up to Volcano -- it has no pharmacy, no nothing. Now our closest pharmacy if Long's goes -- is going to be in Hilo," related Donna Keefer, a local resident.

Meanwhile, there are discussions about opening a public viewing location if and when the lava crosses Highway 130, Pahoa's main throughway.

For several months, lava from Kilauea volcano has been threatening Pahoa town, which has a population of about 900. It had burned down a home and trampled over a cemetery in October.