Hawaii officials have reported the first known injury related to heightened volcanic activity from Kilauea after a Big Island resident was hit by lava spatter while standing on a third-floor balcony.

That person, identified only as a homeowner on Noni Farms Road, suffered a shattered leg from his shin to his foot when lava spatter struck him, said a spokeswoman for Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, according to Reuters. Lava spatters “can weigh as much as a refrigerator, and even small pieces of spatter can kill,” the spokeswoman told Reuters.

Neither the mayor’s office nor the Hawaii County Civil Defense Center immediately responded to requests for additional information Sunday.

Noni Farms Road is a residential road that lies to the east of the Leilani Estates neighborhood in Pahoa, where the majority of the attention has been focused ever since Kilauea’s volcanic activity increased dramatically three weeks ago.

To date, at least 23 fissures have formed along a northeast-southwest line in the rift zone, most in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighborhoods. Lava emerging from the vents has destroyed dozens of homes.

Late Saturday, a fast-flowing stream of lava pouring from one of the active fissures also reached Highway 137, which hugs the island’s eastern coast.

The lava shut down about a 4-mile section of the highway, between Kamaili and Pohoiki roads, blocking one of the main escape routes for the area’s coastal residents. Officials said late Saturday that the lava had entered the ocean, and advised all people to avoid the area because of a new hazard: laze.

Laze occurs when hot lava meets the ocean, sending a plume of hydrochloric acid and steam – along with fine glass particles – into the air. Laze plumes travel with the wind and can shift directions without warning, the county civil defense agency said.

The activity capped off a week of devastation. Before dawn Thursday, a big explosion sent a plume of ash about 30,000 feet into the sky. And Friday, several fissures, including one that had just formed, spewed fresh lava from Kilauea’s summit, destroying 40 structures. The lava isolated 40 homes in the area, and four people were airlifted out by helicopter.


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