By Karin Stanton
PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) - Slow-moving lava from an erupting volcano on Hawaii's Big Island continued to flow toward a small village, advancing about 250 yards on Monday, and threatened to reach a major traffic intersection before year's end.
While the main flow from Kilauea's June 27th eruption has stalled yards from the main road through Pahoa Village and just feet from a recycling transfer station, the breakout upslope is active and lava is crawling toward the area, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The flow front is 2.3 miles upslope and does not pose an immediate threat to the community, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said.
Last month, the river of lava incinerated a house, the only home devoured by the stream of molten rock.
Officials declared the new outbreak to be the leading edge of the flow on Dec. 1 and have been monitoring it closely as it moves 100-400 yards in a northerly direction each day.
If lava reaches the intersection, where a grocery store and dozens of other businesses line the road, it will sever the main thoroughfare for nearly 10,000 residents who live in the southern district of the island.
County officials moved quickly this summer to ready two roads further east of the highway, although they won't be open to the public until the highway is overrun.
On Monday, county officials began ferrying in students from Keonepoko Elementary School, which was closed in October ahead of the advancing flow. Those students now attend classes at two other area schools.
"This lava flow has changed the lives of many people in Puna, and we wanted to make sure our school children who were most directly affected by the lava were among the first members of the public to visit the flow and see it up close,” said Mayor Billy Kenoi.
More than 1,000 students are expected to tour the transfer station and get a first-hand look at the flow this week. Monday's group included many of the students who were displaced.
(Editing by Curtis Skinner)