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Lava Stunning -- And Dangerous
2005 02 07

Madam Pele is putting on quite a show on the Big Island. Lava from Kilauea volcano is flowing into the ocean in two places. Scientists at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory say this is a good time to witness the flows for yourself -- but be careful.

"The energy is incredible," said Hilo resident Alan Ross. "I can't describe it. It's just something that you'd have to feel for yourself."

"It's almost spiritual to see it just ooze out of the ground," said Michael Teem. "And then all of a sudden it just takes off and starts flowing and it's flowing I don't know how many miles an hour, but very, very fast."

Fast, hot and potentially dangerous. The lava is about 2,000 degrees.

"I was out here a few of months ago with a couple of guys and he got burned real bad on the neck, on the back of his arm, things like that," said Ralph Smith. "It kind of looks like a sunburn but I think it hurts quite a lot."

Those who come here to witness mother nature's splendor for themselves have to hike anywhere from a mile and a half to five miles to reach the flows. The terrain is rugged.

People need to make sure the rock below them is cool enough and strong enough to walk on.

Steam created when the lava spills into the water can be poisonous and hot enough to kill.

Getting too close to the water's edge is risky. Large chunks occasionally fall into the ocean.

Several people have died here since the eruption began in 1983.

Anyone considering a trip to the flows should check with park rangers first.

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