Toxic Gas Threatens HI’s Big Island

Hawaii County officials are warning residents about dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide that are rising from some fissures. Fissure 17, which cracked open on the earth’s surface Sunday morning, remained the most active, sending spatter more than 100 feet in the air, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Since beginning on May 3, the eruption of Hawaii’s Kīlauea Volcano has destroyed dozens of homes, forcing hundreds of mandatory evacuations. A total of 17 bubbling volcanic fissures have opened in the ground to spew fountains of lava and toxic gas.

Alvin C. Bronstein, Hawaii State Department of Health’s EMS chief is warning the general public to avoid the area because the gases emitted require cartridge respirators.

In addition to the threat of gas and fissures, there are concerns about what’s known as phreatic eruptions.

Scott McLean, a Kilauea resident tweeted: “The sensor in my hand was beeping and reached 66ppm. I couldn’t breathe, and eyes and lungs burned momentarily. It may have actually been the worst 10 seconds of my life”.

The Hawaii Civil Defense agency warned just before Monday midnight that narrow lava flows from fissure 17 were creeping towards the ocean on the southeastern coast.

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has remained closed since Friday due to several threats, including a possible steam explosion at Kilauea.