Light coats of gritty ash fall near erupting Hawaii volcano


By CALEB JONES and SOPHIA YAN | The Associated Press

VOLCANO, Hawaii (AP) — Authorities handed out around 2,000 masks for protection as people living near Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano braced for pulverized rock, glass and crystal to rain down after an explosive eruption at the peak’s summit.

Lindsey Magnani, her fiance Elroy Rodrigues and their two children picked up masks for their family Thursday afternoon at Cooper Center in Volcano, Hawaii.

Magnani said both of her children — Kahele Rodrigues, 2, and Kayden Rodrigues, 3 months old — were doing OK, but her and her fiance had both been sneezing all day.

“This morning it smelled like sulfur so we had to close all the windows,” Magnani said.

Most residents found only thin coatings of ash, if they saw any at all, as winds blew much of the 30,000-foot (9,100-meter) plume away from people.

“It was a grit, like a sand at the beach,” said Joe Laceby, who lives in the town of Volcano a few miles to the northeast of Kilauea’s summit. The ash was a bit of an irritant, he said, but “not too bad.”

Laceby sealed windows and cracks in his home with cellophane wrap to keep out ash and volcanic gases. He has gas masks to protect himself from the toxic fumes and ash.

The explosion at Kilauea’s summit came shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday following two weeks of volcanic activity that sent lava flows into neighborhoods and destroyed at least 26 homes. Scientists said the eruption was the most powerful in recent days, though it probably lasted only a few minutes.

Geologists have warned that the volcano could become even more violent, with increasing ash production and the potential that future blasts could hurl boulders the size of cows from the summit.

Winds kept the ash away from the Volcano Winery, tasting room manager Lani Delapenia said. A thin coating of white soot had blanketed tables and vines the day before, on Wednesday, but none wafted over the day of the 30,000-foot plume. The strength and direction of the wind makes all the difference, she said.

“The Volcano Village, and us at the winery, are doing well and we hope people still come and visit us and order wine because we are still pumping wine out,” Delapenia said.

The vineyard also has a great view of the plume, she said.

Julia Neal, operator of Pahala Plantation Cottages about 28 miles (45 kilometers) southwest of the summit crater, said …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World

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