HONOLULU (KHON2) — With the public viewing area set to close at midnight, the Department of Land and Natural Resources said law enforcement officials are stepping up patrols of the closed area.

Chief Jason Redulla of the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement said, “As the Mauna Loa eruption and lava flow has ended, and the government response is being demobilized, there remains concerns, that with the public viewing area closing, some people may decide to walk in and enter closed areas.”

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On Dec. 4, a DOCARE officer contacted three people walking up Mauna Loa Access Road. The officer warned and ordered the individuals to leave the area.

Then on Dec. 7, three men from Kazakhstan were cited for entering the Mauna Loa Forest Reserve.

They face petty misdemeanor charges in Hilo District Court on Jan. 20, 2023, according to DLNR.

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Redulla continued, “There are hidden dangers such as lava cooling, jagged and sharp rocks, and uneven surfaces, as well as potential unexploded ordnance that make trekking through the area extremely dangerous. Getting cited pales in comparison to getting hurt and having to be rescued from rugged backcountry areas. DOCARE officers will be monitoring closed areas frequently and will cite or arrest anyone violating the closure.”