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Lava Flow from Kilauea Continues Unabated

May 1, 1990

KALAPANA, Hawaii (AP) _ A 2,000-foot-wide river of lava from Kilauea Volcano destroyed another house Monday as it threatened to bury and burn the center of this coastal community.

Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, was pumping all of its daily output of 650,000 cubic yards of molten rock into the Kalapana area on Hawaii Island, and authorities had little hope the community would survive.

″This is a massive glacier of lava, at least a quarter of a mile wide, at least 10 to 40 feet high behind the front of the flow,″ said Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Harry Kim.

Kilauea has destroyed 120 homes since its latest eruption began Jan. 3, 1983, 44 of them in April.

Lava was a quarter-mile from the Kalapana Store and Drive-In and two churches in the town center, which Kim said could be overrun by Tuesday at the earliest.

Walter Yamaguchi, who built the store in 1974, said he was content to leave the fate of his business in the hands of God and the volcano goddess Pele.

″In fact, Madame Pele owns the whole place. So I believe in her and I believe in God,″ the 82-year-old man said. ″I leave it up to the good Lord whether I win. I leave it up to heaven.″

Parishioners made plans to move the historic Star of the Sea Church, which sits on an oceanfront lot in the direct path of the lava. A trucking company volunteered to move the church for free. Volunteers began removing the church’s stained glass windows Friday.

Robert Lippi, chief financial offer for the Roman Catholic Diocese in Honolulu, said church officials would wait until lava was certain to overrun the church before moving it.

″It looks pretty inevitable,″ he said.

Leaders of Kalapana Mauna Kea Congregational Church, located across the street from Star of the Sea, said the church’s structure was rotten from termites and not worth saving.

They said some artifacts and a church bell made in the 1800s would be the only things salvaged.

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