Close call for lava viewers at Kilauea - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

PHOTOS: Close call for lava viewers at Kilauea

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KILAUEA VOLCANO, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) -

A Big Island photographer captured startling shots of risky behavior by curious lava viewers this weekend.

CJ Kale has been documenting Madame Pele's beauty for 17 years, but he is also aware of the hidden hazards.

While on a boat, he spotted four men posing for pictures on top of a hot lava tube.

Two minutes after they walked away the lava bench they had been standing on crumbled into the ocean, according to Kale.

"They did have a bench collapse, a small bench collapse right in between the area there, where I'd say about a dump truck, two dump truck loads of gravel just dropped away," Kale said.

Officials at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said that four deaths on Kilauea have been related to ocean-entry hazards.

Authorities are worried that there may be more tragedies if people aren't careful.

"The people on top of the lava tube don't seem to know that that is beneath them and could have a very fragile and shallow layer of hardened layer on top of it, but as you can see it's about 2,400 degree right below them," said Jessica Ferracane of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Kale said the same group also stood in a plume of steam.

"The steam is filled with gases and basically is very acidic. It's not something that you want to be standing in. You don't want to be breathing that," he said.

This ocean entry near Kalapana is outside of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. As of Monday, the coastal flows were no longer entering the water from the park side of that boundary.

"These actions that these people are taking are extremely risky, potentially deadly, and in some cases, can even be deeply offensive to many Hawaiians," Ferracane said.

Kale hopes that visitors will safely enjoy the experience with the help of a reputable guide.

"They can go with a guided tour group that will take them out that does know about the land and can teach them how to actually access and view it without putting themselves into a dangerous situation," said Kale.

The County of Hawaii runs a lava viewing program. It is open 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. each night 7 days a week. For more information, call (808) 961-8093.

 

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