The Latest: Hawaii lava flow may cross highway within hours

The Latest on the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Hawaii County civil defense officials are warning residents that lava may cross a highway in the coming hours.

Officials say a flow is less than a mile (kilometer) away from Highway 137 in the Big Island's Puna district where lava has oozed out of fissures in the ground.

At the flow's current speed Saturday afternoon, officials estimate it may cross the highway in the next several hours.

Before Friday, lava was just spattering up and collecting at the edges of the fissures. On Friday afternoon, the flow ramped up. The flow crossed a road, isolating a handful of residents, including some who needed to be airlifted to safety. On Saturday morning, it was 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the ocean and advancing at a rate of 300 yards (274 meters) per hour.

Officials are warning people about something called laze, if lava enters the ocean.

Laze is created when hot lava hits the ocean, sending hydrochloric acid and steam with fine glass particles into the air.

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12:30 p.m.

Two fissures that opened up in a rural Hawaii community have merged to produce faster and more fluid lava.

Scientists say the characteristics of lava oozing from fissures in the ground has changed significantly as new magma mixes with decades-old stored lava.

Before Friday, lava was just spattering up and collecting at the edges of the fissures. On Friday afternoon, the flow ramped up and crossed a road. On Saturday morning, it was 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the ocean and advancing at a rate of 300 yards (274 meters) per hour.

Lava has been oozing out of fissures in Big Island neighborhoods for two weeks, claiming at least 44 structures.

Kilauea volcano is also affecting other neighboring areas because of ash that has been spewing out during explosions at the summit.

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10 a.m.

Scientists say a wide lava flow that crossed a road in a Hawaii neighborhood continues to be active and is advancing at rates up to 300 yards (274 meters) per hour.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientists say eruption of Kilauea's lava increased Friday and continues to do so Saturday.

Three people stuck in a rural neighborhood where lava is flowing have made it out.

Emergency workers had planned to rescue them by helicopter Saturday morning. Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder says two got out on their own and one was evacuated by air.

Officials warn that residents below the flow need to prepare to evacuate if necessary.

Lava has been oozing out of fissures in the Big Island neighborhoods for two weeks, claiming at least 44 structures.

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7:55 a.m.

Slow-moving lava has destroyed four homes near a Big Island neighborhood that has already lost several structures in the wake of volcanic activity.

Hawaii County Civil Defense reported Saturday that fissures near Lanipuna Gardens keep erupting, leading to a lava flow.

Officials say some residents are being told to prepare to voluntarily evacuate if lava threatens a major highway.

A short-lived eruption several hours earlier spewed out an ash cloud from Kilauea volcano's summit. The National Weather Service says the ash plume reached as high as 7,000 feet (2,133 meters).

A rural subdivision of 40 homes below the volcano became isolated by lava on Friday, prompting four people to be evacuated by helicopter.

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5:30 a.m.

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano shot out a small steam explosion overnight that resulted in a towering cloud of ash.

The U.S. Geological Survey reports the short-lived eruption at the volcano's summit occurred just before midnight Saturday.

According to the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, the ensuing ash cloud reached up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters).

Scientists say more explosions that could spawn even minor amounts of ashfall could happen any time.

Officials are currently assessing the threat from fast-moving lava that has isolated a rural subdivision of 40 homes below the Big Island volcano. Four people have already been evacuated by helicopter.

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8:10 p.m.

Fast-moving lava has crossed a road and isolated about 40 homes in a rural subdivision below Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, forcing at least four people to be evacuated by county and National Guard helicopters.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said Friday that police, firefighters and National Guard troops were securing the area of the Big Island and stopping people from entering.

The homes were isolated in the area east of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens — two neighborhoods where lava has destroyed 40 structures, including 26 homes, over the past two weeks.

Officials were assessing how many people were still in the newly threatened area. They were advising people to shelter in place and await further instructions.

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7:30 p.m.

Hawaii officials warned residents that fast-moving lava was approaching an area near homes that were previously destroyed by eruptions from Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

Hawaii County Civil Defense said Friday police, firefighters and National Guard troops were securing the area of the Big Island and stopping people from entering.

About 40 homes were isolated in the newly affected area east of Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens — two neighborhoods where lava has destroyed 40 structures, including 26 homes, over the past two weeks.

Officials were using helicopters to assess how many people were still in the newly threatened area.

County officials have been encouraging residents in the district to prepare for potential evacuations. The county is now asking them to stay put and wait for further instructions.