Park rangers crack down on trespassing hikers eager to view lava up close


Some people are going to illegal heights for a chance to see Madame Pele in action, and that has officials taking action.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park says it’s seen an increase in visitors taking “daredevil actions” to get an up-close look at lava flowing into the ocean.

In photos snapped by Kanoa Jones of Moku Nui Lava Boat Tours, visitors of the park are seen standing dangerously close to the edge of the cliff, where lava flows into the ocean.

“The most craziest thing is, every morning the national park has guests right above the hose. I’ve seen them lying on their stomach, stretching their hands out over the cliff, trying to get a better picture. I’ve seen people carrying infants right on the cliff line, numerous kids,” said Jones. “If the parents put themselves in danger, that’s fine, but don’t do it to your child, you know?”

Two million visitors come to Hawaii National Volcanoes Park each year. The park says it’s the most popular attraction in the state, and with lava flowing into the ocean, interest has increased.

Now, park rangers are cracking down on people trespassing to see the lava.

“People are naturally drawn to natural phenomenon. There’s nothing like watching the glowing lava lake,” said Jessica Ferracane, public affairs specialist at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. “A lot of people want that once-in-a-lifetime experience, but we don’t want that experience to be the last experience.”

Ferracane says the park has handed out more citations than usual in the last year.

There have been five lava-related deaths in the park since 1990. All victims were in off-limits areas. Two died from inhaling toxic fumes from the lava.

“The other perished because they got overheated and sat too close to flowing lava,” Ferracane explained. “Others have disappeared because of delta collapses falling into the ocean, never to be seen again.”

The park is working on a safety campaign to warn visitors of the dangers.

“There are two simple things people can do when they see the lava: one, stay out of closed areas, and number two, be prepared,” said Ferracane.

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