HONOLULU, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The accelerating speed of lava flow from the Kilauea volcano triggered methane explosions and evacuation warnings late Sunday as the lava closed in on residential areas.
Hawaiian government officials said the lava is flowing approximately 15 to 20 yards per hour and was only 600 yards from Pahoa Village Road as of 9:30 p.m. local time Sunday night. The progression of the flow led officials to warn Pahoa residents of possible overnight evacuations.
The volcano, which has been flowing since June, has been causing an "unnerving" number of methane explosions, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist and spokeswoman Janet Babb.
Officials have said the light to moderate smoke conditions could potentially intensify over the next few days and residents near the lava path should be ready to leave their homes by Oct. 28. Residents will have to turn off their electricity and disconnect their gas lines at this time.
Officials have also begun construction on an emergency access road between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kalapana.
"It's probably going to take between 45 and 60 days. After that the surfaces will be laid and hopefully we'll end up with a two-lane, 22-foot-wide gravel road that people from Puna will be able to access," said Cindy Orlando, the park superintendent.