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Hawaii Officials Prepare for Mauna Loa Lava Flow

The lava flow is getting close to a major roadway.

Earlier this week, Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano in the world, erupted on Hawaii’s Big Island, letting loose a cloud of ash and a flow of lava. While there is no danger to the lives of Hawaiian citizens, the encroachment of the lava toward populated areas has locals concerned about the state of critical infrastructure.

As of Wednesday morning, the lava flow was roughly 3.6 miles away from the Saddle Road, also known as Daniel K. Inouye Highway, one of Big Island’s most important roadways. The Saddle Road is the main thoroughfare linking the western and eastern sides of the island, and if it is damaged or destroyed by the lava flow, locals could see exponential increases in commute time. Besides being generally inconvenient, it could also be problematic for things like deliveries or emergency services.

“County officials have been working with the state Department of Transportation on a plan to shut down the Daniel K. Inouye Highway if the lava moves close enough to the road to pose a hazard,” Adam Weintraub, communication director with Hawaii Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement to CNN. “The plans are preliminary and subject to change based on how the lava advances.”

The lava is gradually slowing and spreading as it moves away from the volcano, so the local geological survey is at least certain that, in the event the lava encroaches upon critical infrastructure, they can provide a day’s warning at minimum.

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