- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - Hawaii County officials are preparing for an increase in visitors as lava from Kilauea’s Puu Oo continues to flow and is visible from the small coastal community of Kalapana for the first time in three years.

The county is opening a daily viewing area in Kalapana from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting Thursday. A parking area has been set up along Highway 130 to accommodate the increased traffic.

Jeff Sutton, a scientist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser (https://bit.ly/29u2Kjx ) the lava advanced about 1,500 feet Wednesday as it headed toward the bottom of a cliff.

The flow is expected to slow up once it hits the bottom of the cliff, where it will be about 2 miles from the ocean.

Jessica Ferracane, a spokeswoman for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is warning visitors not to get to close to the lava. She said visitors can hike to the flow, but it is a “grueling 11-mile roundtrip hike over hardened lava . definitely not for everyone and hikers must be prepared.”

Hawaii County Civil Defense said people who want to walk the border of the national park should bring water and proper footwear to be prepared for the six-mile roundtrip hike.

Two tourists from Canada were already taking advantage of the views on Tuesday.

“It’s really fascinating,” Hugh Williamson told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. (https://bit.ly/296qutz )

His wife, Suzanne, said they visited Kilauea’s summit Monday night and caught sight of some spatter.

“It put on a really good show,” she said.

The current lava flow began on May 24 and has advanced about 4 miles from the east slope of Puu Oo vent.

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