HONOLULU (Reuters) – Officials tracking volcanic lava creeping through a forest toward homes on Hawaii’s Big Island have issued a voluntary evacuation notice for residents with existing health conditions who might find themselves abruptly cut off from medical care.
Residents in the affected Puna district were warned on Tuesday that “medical services and supplies will be severely limited and emergency medical response time may be significantly delayed” if the lava flow crosses the area’s main roadway.
Health officials have previously warned of the effects of heavy smoke from trees burned by the molten rock.
A mixture of gases and fine particles released as the lava sets vegetation on fire could cause breathing difficulties, especially for individuals with chronic respiratory conditions, the state Health Department and American Lung Association said.
Civil Defense officials and the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday imposed flight restrictions over the lava stream, which began oozing from Kilauea Volcano on June 27, due to congested air traffic from sightseers and the media.