Some Hawaii residents leave as Kilauea spews ash

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A day earlier, "ballistic blocks" shot from Kilauea's same crater, according to USGS, which says it is the first time such an event has been seen at the Hawaiian volcano in almost a century.

"They said they slept through it".

Robert Hughes, who owns a bed and breakfast near the crater, said he's more concerned about the business he'll lose as a result of the volcano's activity. Volcano and other nearby communities may be showered by pea-sized fragments or dusted with nontoxic ash but they aren't expected to get hit by large boulders, she said.

A webcam at the Hawaii Volcano Observatory caught the aftermath of the short-lived eruption on film: an onslaught of wet and dusty ash raining down on a darkened landscape.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the flight restriction extends an earlier limit that was up to 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The prohibition applies to a 5-mile radius around the crater. New radar measurements estimate the volcanic ash plume to reach 30,000 feet.

Ross Birch, the executive director of the Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau, said officials "walk the fine line". The airline is encouraging guests to monitor their flight status for updates. The agency advises people in the path of the ash plume to shelter in place.

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Though dramatic, Thursday's early eruption did not pose an immediate threat to any people in the vicinity, Poland said.

Short-term risks are higher for those with asthma and emphysema. Authorities issued an ash advisory that lasted until noon, but did not report any other immediate risks.

Geologists say the latest eruptions are being caused by lava levels substantially draining at the summit.

Kilauea probably isn't done erupting yet, if the 1924 event is a guide: it went on for more than two weeks and caused more than 50 steam explosions. He landed on the Big Island that evening. In the 1960s, an eruption at Kilauea stopped for a year and a half before the volcano suddenly resumed spewing ash.

Geologists warn that the volcano can become more violent, and that more damage could occur.

"It's totally weird", she said.

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N95 masks do not protect against gases and vapors, the county said.

Free N95 masks will be distributed as from 1 p.m.to 7 p.m.at Cooper Center in Volcano, Pahala Community Center, Na'alehu Community Center and at the Shipman Park Pavilion in Kea'au. Fine ash particles are generally a millimeter or less in size.

With increased attention on volcanic activity in the United States, including the five active volcanoes in Washington state, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today secured passage of S. 346, the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act.

"I just went to Pahoa and it's a smoke-filled nightmare, the likes of which I've only imagined from reading about Pompeii", he said.

Fissure No. 17 northeast of Lanipuna Gardens was active but with less lava being added to the flow, said Steve Brantley, deputy scientist-in-charge at Hawaii Volcano Observatory.

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