Lava flow closes in on Hawaii power plant

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On the Big Island in Hawaii, the Kilauea volcano is continuing to erupt, spewing plumes of ash and lava.

A photo shared by the United States Geological Survey shows striking blue flames peeking through the cracks of the street. Methane gas is a result of the lava burning plants and trees.

The gas "can seep into subsurface voids and explode when heated" or "emerge from cracks in the ground several feet away", the USGS said.

"During the sequence, multiple fissures expelled lava in the area in and around Leilani Estates in the Puna district of the Big Island of Hawaii", the Gemini Observatory said in a statement.

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The eruption opened up more than 20 vents in the ground releasing lava, sulfur dioxide and steam and sending plumes of ash miles into the sky. Since the volcano began erupting in early May, it's destroyed dozens of homes and other structures and send thousands of evacuees packing.

Underscoring the eruption's dangers, a Hawaii man was hit by a flying piece of lava over the weekend said the molten rock almost sheared his leg in half.

On Wednesday, molten lava from the volcano had reached within 200 meters of one of Puna's 11 geothermal energy well pads, and burned down a disused building, Haaretz reported.

The Kilauea volcano has been gushing lava on the big island of Hawaii for the past three weeks.

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In a briefing this morning at Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters, Hara told state, county and federal officials that he has arranged for two Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters to be available for evacuation missions now that lava from the Lower East Rift Zone has flowed to the sea and severed Highway 137 along the coast.

U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Mike Poland says small ash explosions are coming from the summit intermittently as lava keeps flowing into the ocean.

"You can see it blew out this window", Mueller said, pointing to shards of glass on her upstairs bedroom floor.

The race at the site marked the latest challenge facing authorities during what geologists call an unprecedented, simultaneous eruption at Kilauea's summit and from giant fissures 25 miles (40 km) down its eastern side. Blasts can toss rocks several feet.

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May 3 was also when Puna Geothermal, owned by Nevada's Ormat Technologies, was shut down.

Underground wells bring up steam and hot liquid, and the steam feeds a turbine generator.

Then there's the risk of explosions at a geothermal power plant.

Low lava fountains were erupting from a almost continuous 2-mile-long (3.22-kilometre) portion of the series of fissures that have opened up in the ground, scientists said Thursday.

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Tourism officials cheered news that a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship that tours the Hawaiian Islands would resume stopping in Kailua-Kona next week.

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