Mayor Harry Kim says a safe lava viewing area can happen soon


Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says there could soon be a safe lava viewing area on land.  He adds there’s a growing need for people from all over the world to see the attraction.
And in light of the lava bomb explosion that injured 23 people on a tour boat yesterday, the county is working even harder to find a safe viewing area.

The mayor says he has narrowed it down to a few sites. And if all goes well, it could happen within a matter of days.

Lava from Kilauea Volcano has always attracted visitors who wanted to see the show in person. Mayor Kim says that Monday’s lava bomb that hit the tour boat shows just how unpredictable lava viewing can be. 

So all safety measures have to be considered before a lava viewing area can be approved on land, which has to be done by the State Department of Health and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“If you address the other things of safety, then that takes care of the liability. The liability comes into play when you disregard certain things and people will get hurt, obviously, because you have to go with the numbers game,” said Mayor Kim.

He says viewers will have to be brought in either by bus or shuttle so there wouldn’t be a lot of traffic. And it wouldn’t be an area where people can walk around in. The county would only charge for the cost of the operation. The idea is to help the businesses that have been devastated by this latest eruption.

“Every business I think in the area from Volcano down to Pahoa area has lost business from 20% to 80%. And anything can help. Naturally, that is our job, so we’re gonna try to keep looking for things. Hopefully, things will stabilize better.”

He adds there was an area picked out on Pohoiki Road that was all cleared out and ready to go. But a cinder cone built up which blocked the viewing area. 

“Lo and behold when it was ready and we planned to be in that area the cone became so tall that you couldn’t even see the eruption,” the mayor said.

So other areas are now being considered. And a site could be picked within a matter of days, if not weeks.

The mayor says viewers would be allowed to go in during the day and night. But not too late, probably no later than 10 or 11 o’clock.

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